Fr. Kurian KollapallilWe encounter differences when people have various opinions, values, motivations, perceptions, ideas or desires.   Parents have different values considering the values held by their children.  Sometimes we name it as the generation- gap.   Siblings differ in their values, opinions, beliefs and life choices. At times these differences drift them apart to the point they will cut off-from all relationships and cease to communicate to each other.  Husband and wife have differences of opinions. At work place there are people who can never withstand the presence of their co-worker due to his or her habits and opinions. Conflict resolution workshops are taught in the work place.  Even among the Christian communities, Catholics or protestants, there will always be quarrels, differences of opinions on how and who, disappointments over the leadership and councils. Some will feel they are hurt and offended because of the other person’s behavior.  But we can resolve these issues and differences amicably if we hearken to the teachings of Jesus.

Love of neighbor was the hallmark of Christianity. The first Christian community remained in perfect harmony caring and loving for each other (Acts 4:32) but later as the number increased there were grumblings and complaints. Jesus proposes a three-step process to solve issues among hisfollowers. First, the injured person should appeal to the offender. It starts with a private conversation and manifests the love that should exist among members of the community. If the offender rejects the personal approach then the injured party should take one or two other community members to speak with the recalcitrant member. Then, if reconciliation still isn’t achieved the Church community is enlisted to persuade the wayward member to change. If that intervention fails the person is to be treated like an outsider. Those sinful behaviors treated as pardonable or not pardonable will have the effect not only on earth but even in heaven.

The love of God presupposes genuine love for the neighbor, and it is not restricted to fellow Christians alone but extended to all. When we pray together in harmony and peace God is present amidst us and there is real power in the common prayer. The unrepentant sinner always misses the unity and God’s powerful presence in his or her life. It’s a reminder that when the church must reach a decision about the overall welfare of the community, especially in dealing with the  erring members, we are not to forget to pray together as an expression of our concern for a sister or brother. Praying together is also a reminder of the Lord’s presence in our midst, working with us for the building up and the healing of our community.

“We may correct and admonish ourselves, but we will not tolerate correction or reproof from others. Yet it is an unquestionable fact that one ounce of humiliation and correction from another hand is more profitable than a hundredweight which is self-imposed.”  St. Francis de Sales