When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” — Matthew 21:23–27
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. — Matthew 5:23–24
It’s hard to seek reconciliation when tensions continue to rise and where conflict is around every corner, as Jesus witnessed with the Pharisees early in the week leading to his crucifixion. Yet the Gospel of Matthew makes it clear how important reconciliation is within relationships here on Earth. It’s so important, that before you come to the altar with your gift, if there is any animosity between you and someone else, you must go and be reconciled. This is something that I find challenging and sometimes seems impossible to do.
The time we are living in has brought family members against each other, has broken lifelong friendships and has also caused us to greatly dislike people we might not even fully know. I don’t want to always try and be reconciled with my brother or sister. Sometimes the easiest thing seems to be to just hold all the anger, hate and animosity within us and push it down without doing anything about it.
Reconciliation these days seems to be a radical thing to do. It’s radical because it’s not easy. But maybe doing something radical might be the very thing that starts the healing process with someone who you’ve had animosity with. During this week, may we slowly take steps toward forgiveness and healing, knowing that when we forgive and seek reconciliation we are also given the gift of letting go of the toxins in our own lives. May we allow the Spirit to work in places we can’t, to heal and bring peace in ways we cannot even imagine.
God of heaven, heal our hearts and give us the ability to start the process of radical reconciliation. Remind us that it can take time and help us to endure when it seems to just get harder. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
Shalom: The Way to Reconciliation
Written by Ivy Lopedito, Christian Brooks and Donna Frischknecht Jackson