Vugt: Living together in the Church

THE Gospel of Luke (17:3) says the following: If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault, when the two of you are in private, and if he listens to you, you have won your brother. If he doesn’t listen to you, take with you one or two others, so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembled Church, then regard such a one as a pagan or a publican.

I say to you whatever you bind on earth, heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, heaven will keep inbound.

In like manner, I say to you: if, on earth, two of you are united in asking for anything, it will be granted to you by my heavenly Father; for where two or three are gathered in my Name, I am there among them.

Then Peter asked him, “Lord, how many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.

Jesus had told Peter before: Whatever you tie on earth will be tied in Heaven. He declares it now for the whole Church. The believers must attempt to settle their suits among themselves, knowing that Christ is among them, as signified in his name Emmanuel: God with us.

The text of 18:15 is doubtful. Perhaps it was written if your brother or sister has sinned, go… in which case it would refer to the effort of the Christian community to correct one who has gone astray.

Gathered un the name of Jesus (v. 20). The prayer of the community, of the apostolic group, of the Christian couple.

Have we noticed that this chapter on the Church is so short? Yet Matthew is the one who is most concerned about the Church of Jesus, whether in the parables of the kingdom or in Peter’s profession of faith.

Jesus does not seem to have said anything whatsoever to his apostles about structures that would emerge (or even disappear): nothing but a community spirit. Welcome for the poor and lowly, never ending forgiveness and acceptance of others, prayer of a community that has apostolic ambitions and cries to God what is asked of him; there we have the sum total of the wisdom and means the Church has in order to confront all that challenges its evangelization.

While we participate in the common activities, overcoming unavoidable conflicts, and persevering in apostolic work, we grow as children of God in truth, thus knowing the Father in truth. The Church, therefore, is that sacred place where we find God, and to express this reality we say that the Church is “the sacrament of God”.

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