Table of Contents
Confronting or Confronted
Transcript (A New Feature!)
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Hello and welcome to Spend Five with Jesus for Sunday, September 10th, 2023. I am the friar and it is wonderful to be with you this morning.
Today’s readings are a little challenging, I think, because what happens in them is a difficult topic sometimes. I think that when we find ourselves in a situation where we need to confront someone because they’re not behaving well, the challenge, quite honestly, is how to go about it in a way that’s going to be helpful to both of us.
The first reading and the Gospel really talk about this kind of conflict. What do we do when someone we love and care about needs to be challenged? They need to be confronted because of some kind of bad behavior. In my experience, the challenge is that people are either good at confronting or changing, but not always both.
Here’s what I mean. It’s easy sometimes to point out the faults of others. What’s interesting is oftentimes when we point out the faults of others, we’re really focusing on what we see in others that we don’t like in ourselves. And so that’s a rather interesting dynamic.
But there are also people who won’t confront at any cost because peace is the ultimate value. Neither leads to spiritual growth. Confronting someone without being able to be confronted is really not a helpful thing at all. It’s a one-way desire for growth. The person that can confront but cannot be confronted, in fact, is shutting off growth, shutting off those kinds of things which would help us to grow in our relationship with Jesus to become better people to become more like Jesus himself.
But equally damaging is the opposite extreme where we simply decide we’re gonna keep the peace at all costs. We’re not going to care very much at all whether or not there is a conflict. We’re gonna ignore it. We’re gonna pretend it’s not there. We’re going to run the other way. At its worst, this leads to the worst kind of passive-aggressive behavior.
And there really is no best. Because the same things are likely to happen, and we are likely to go off by ourselves and grumble at behavior that we really refuse to confront.
Jesus is giving us the pathway to love. What does he do? First of all, he suggests a method that has at its heart a desire for the growth of the person who’s doing something they shouldn’t. It is not a case that Jesus says embarrass them as much as you can. Start simply a one-on-one conversation, maybe a couple of other people who love and care about this individual to reinforce what is going on. And even then, if not that, then go to the church. Maybe the church can help someone to change.
And then there’s a tricky line. Someone just recently pointed this out to me and I found it very interesting. If they won’t listen to the church, treat them as they would a tax collector or a sinner. And I always thought, well this means they shouldn’t be treated very well at all. But someone pointed out that it was Jesus who was saying this and how did Jesus treat tax collectors and sinners?
He treated them in a way where they were always People who could grow He treated them in a way Where they were always able to experience his mercy. He never gave up on them. Today, if you have someone in your life who is difficult or challenging, first pray for them. Ask God to help you to demonstrate clearly that you love them and you care for them. But also ask God that you may be open, so that you may also see how it is that you need to change your life.
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