In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to be patiently helpful to our brothers and sisters who offend us and the community of believers. We are to go to work it out – one on one – as opposed to trashing the offender before everyone else. We are to go first to the person himself or herself.  If that doesn’t work, Jesus tells us to take two others to help build a bridge of healing.  Finally, Jesus says that if that doesn’t work, we should let this be a matter for the community’s leadership.  Only after all this effort at reconciliation has failed, should we say we had done the best we can. Clearly, Jesus builds his faithful followers on the notion of a community in which we exercise care for one another, even when there is conflict and division.  And, at the end of this Gospel reading, Jesus assures us that whenever we are gathered together in prayer, he’ll be with us to support our every effort.
If a fellow parishioner has offended you, pray first the words of Psalm 95, asking  God to soften your heart to the degree that you will be able to reach out in love – not to confront the offender to highlight the fault, but to heal and to reconcile – always doing so for the welfare of the other and of the community itself, and remembering the advice of St. Paul that all the commandments are summed up in one:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”