(Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)

In the first reading, (Ezekiel 33:7-9) the Lord admonishes Prophet Ezekiel by revealing that if he refuses to preach to the wicked, he would be held accountable. If however, the sinner is preached to and he or she refuses to reform, that person shall die but the prophet would have saved his head. We are here by encouraged and reminded of our responsibility toward one another; the need for fraternal guidance and correction as much as possible. Docility in spirit is important here, that is, being able to give and at the same time respectfully receive corrections.

St. Paul discloses in the second reading (Rom 13:8-10) that love conquers all. He notes that we should owe no one anything except love while stressing that he or she who loves the neighbour has fulfilled the law. He summarised his point that, “the law of you shall not commit adultery, kill, steal and covet” are summed up in loving the neighbour as yourself. Genuine love is the foundation of all virtues.

And in the gospel of Matthew 18:15-20, we are provided with Jesus’ fourfold blueprint for conflict management – *Talking to the person alone, *taking one or two trustworthy persons, *reporting to the community and *treating the person as a pagan or tax collector. He adds: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Jesus further taught that: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

Dear sisters and brothers, we are challenged to try our best by handling conflicts positively, winning our brothers and sisters who were seemingly lost so as to save our neck as the first reading. Let us shun negative ways of handling conflicts: such as gossip, revenge, cold-shouldering and unhealthy competition. Conflicts could be internal and the possible causes of conflict could be – undue competition, selfishness, materialism, poor communication while managing differences in personality and values.

Practice unconditional love; embracing fraternal correction for failure to correct the wicked is culpability on our own part. “Love is the answer to every one of the commandments” which implies letting go our hurts to let God operate in our hearts.

May we continue to gather around the table of the Lord with depth of love in our hearts for each other.