COMMUNION PROBLEMS. Discernment

Created: Tuesday, 09 April 2013 Last Updated: Friday, 07 June 2013
COMMUNION PROBLEMS
Discernment

jesus1 copia1. The evangel deals realistically with the communion problems that appear in the community and it shows us the way to confront them: prominences, scandals, grave sins, personal offences. The present catechesis picks up very diverse situations and contributes a series of tracks in order to meet its adequate discernment.
2. In a special way, Saint Mathew’s chapter 18 helps us to discern the communion problems that take place in the community. In first place, the prominences, often appearing overlapped or masked. When the disciples discuss about who is the most relevant, Jesus calls a child, places him amidst them and says: “I ensure you: if you do no change and you don’t become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So then, that one who becomes small like this child, he will be the most relevant in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18, 3 – 4). The disciples must change, become small, renounce to the pretension of being more important that the rest, put away any ambition and envy, to practice a service attitude: “That one willing to be the first among you let him be your slave”. (20, 27)
3. One especially grave problem is the scandal of the little ones. The disciples can not be a stumble stone for others: “If anyone should cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble and fall, it would be better for him to be thrown into the depths of the sea with a large millstone around his neck” (18, 6). The scandal of the little ones is so grave that it is necessary to adopt drastic measures to avoid it: “If your hand or your foot is occasion of sin, cut it and throw it away”, “if your eye is occasion of sin, cut it and throw it away” (18, 8-9), “see that you do not despise any of these little ones” (18, 10)
4. The disciple can give up before the ambient surrounding him. Such is  the case of the lost lamb, id est, the disciple who is lost and can be recovered: “If a man has one hundred sheep and he loses one, will he not leave in the mountains the others ninety nine, in order to go looking for the lost one?” (18, 12)
5. Before the serious sin of one of his members, the fraternal correction is applied: “If your brother has sinned against you, go and speak to him alone, and if listens to you, you have won your brother. If he does not listen to you, take with you two or three others so that the case may be decided by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, inform the assembled church about him. But if he does not listen to the church, them regard him as a pagan or a publican” (Mt 18, 15 – 17). Fraternal correction assumes the caution of do not stirring up the whole community. The correction must be first made privately. If it does fail, correction must be repeated before one or two: “so that the case is decided by the word of two or three witnesses” (see Dt 19, 15). If the correction again fails, the business goes to the community. If the sinner disregards the community, “may he be as the pagan or the publican”; he goes out of the community.
6. The decision of the community upon the communion of one of his members (to tie or untie, uphold the forgiveness or to forgive) is also acknowledged by God: “Whatever you bind on earth, Heaven will keep bound; and whatever you unbind on earth, Heaven will keep unbound” (Mt 18, 18). The mission to tie or untie, assumed in the prayer, can have the Lord’s presence, since “where two or three meet in my name, there I am amidst them” (18, 20; Jn 20, 23)
7. Peter sets up to Jesus a different case, which can often happen, the personal offence: “Lord, how many times do I have to forgive the offences that my brother makes me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered him: “I don’t tell you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (18, 21 -22). The situation seems to refer to the old revenge passage that says: “Cain will be revenged up to seven times, but Lamec will be revenged seventy seven times (Gn 4, 24). Jesus´ answer to Peter is forceful: the disciple must always forgive the personal offence. In the Gospel spirit, not only “you will not deliver false testimony against your neighbor” (Ex 20, 16), but you will also excuse, forgive. Jesus invites us to address the Father saying: “Forgive our offences, as we also forgive those who offend us” (Mt 6, 12).
8. The servant without entrails parable instills the need of forgiveness (18, 23 – 25). The one to whom God has forgiven a large debt, has no compassion towards his fellow who owes him a small amount, and tells him: “Be patient with me, that I will pay you”. But he did not accept, and he put him in jail until the payment of the debt.. The other fellows, seeing what was happening, were desolated and they went to tell it to their lord. The lord called the servant and told him: “Miserable! All that debt I forgave you, because you requested it. Should you not also have compassion of your fellow, as I had with you?” And the lord, outraged, delivered him to the executioner, until he paid all his debt. “So will also do with you my celestial father, if you do not forgive each one to his brother”
9. Saint Mathew’s chapter 5 also talks about problems of relationship, fights, insults, lawsuits. Jesus says his disciples: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone whoever insults his brother, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell”. (5, 21 – 22). In most of the ancient manuscripts says: “Whoever is angry with his brother without a motive”
10. In fact, the offended brother may show up annoyed, angry: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (5, 23 – 24). Obviously, according to the context, the insult can be different. The conflicts are judged before the court or the Council. Divisions and disagreements contaminate the celebration. As Saint Paul says: “that is not any more to celebrate the Lord’s dinner” (1 Co 11, 20). He also says: “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Rm 16, 17 – 18)
11. The relationship problem can end before the judge. It is of common sense, better an agreement than a lawsuit: “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Mt 5, 25)
12. Forgiveness includes remorse: "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him." (Lk 17, 3 – 4). Acknowledge of the sin obtains its forgiveness (Ps 32).
13. Jesus asks his disciples not to return bad for bad: “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him also the other ; and if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well, if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you… Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…  If you love only those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Mt 5, 39 – 47; Rm 12, 17; 1 Ts 5, 15). Greetings should not be denied to anybody.
14. Jesus asks his disciples not to judge anybody: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged” (Mt 7, 1). It is referred to the respect owed to others, and not to a grave case in the community that of course must be judged. (1 Co 5, 12). The disciple should no put the finger in the other’s eye: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7, 5). Jesus rejects the prayer of those who believe themselves just and they despise the others; instead, he accepts the publican’s prayer (Lc 18, 9 – 14). It is good to talk heart in hand, and also to watch the impulses of the own heart, from where bad wills come out (Mc 7, 21 – 23). God, who is love, is the model. (1 Jn 4. 8). Saint Paul says it: “You, why do you judge your brother? And you, why do you despise your brother?” (Rm 14, 1). Fraternal love is fundamental (Jn 15, 12). Good wine and not vinegar, is the product of the grape. Community implies communion
15. A permanent situation of tension may require separation. It can happen in the marriage (1 Co 7, 10), also in the mission (Acts 15, 36 – 41). In the case of conflict, mediation is convenient. As Paul says: “Is there not among you any wise man who can judge among brothers?” (1 Co 6, 5). And also: “By the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter will be established” (2 Co 13, 1)
16. Invitation to forgiveness does not prevent other situations that also involve relationship problems: the opposition of familiars and scribes (Mk 4, 20 – 30), the division because of the Gospel (Lk 12, 51), the desertion of those who judge hard his language (Jn 6, 60 – 69), the idleness of those who do not want to work (2 Ts 3, 10), the  trouble caused by the adversary (Mt 13, 24 – 30), the betrayal of one of the twelve (Lk 22, 21 – 23), the cross imposed over Jesus (Lk 23, 33 – 34)
17. Saint Paul’s direction before an immoral case is as follows: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself brother is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside? But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Co 5, 9 – 13)
18. The Gospel is announced as good news:  Blessed, fortunate, happy! says Jesus. So, up to nine times (Mt 5, 3, 11) The Gospel accomplishes the Law and the prophets (5, 17), it overcomes the scribes and Pharisee’s justice (5, 20), it maintains this tension: “You have heard what was said, but I tell you” (5, 21 – 48). It is not for a few who go away from the world, but for many who can transform it. In a special way, it is for the community which in the Gospel finds its own identity. And it is for the world that, with that salt, needs to be preserved from corruption and, with that light needs to be liberated from darkness: “You are the salt of the earth”, “you are the light of the world” (5, 13 -14)
19. The Gospel not only accomplishes the Decalogue, but takes it to its fullness. You not only “will have not other gods” (Ex 20, 3), but “you will look above all for God´s kingdom and its justice” (Mt 6, 33). You not only “will not swear falsely” (Ex 20, 7), but “you will no swear in any manner” (Mt 5, 33 – 34). You will no only “keep the Sabbath” (Ex 20, 8), but “the Saturday is made for man” (Mk 2, 27), you will be fed with “the bread of life” (Jn 6, 35 – 51). You not only “honour your father and mother” (Ex 20, 12), but “those who listen God´s word and accomplish it” will be your family (Lk 8, 21). You not only “will not kill” (Ex 20, 13), but “you will love your enemy” (Mt 5, 43 – 44). Not only “you will not commit adultery” (Ex 20, 14; see Ec 41, 17; Ex 20, 17), but “you will be faithful with all your heart” (Mt 5, 27 – 30). You not only “will not steal” (Ex 20, 15), but “you will share your goods” (Lk 19, 8 – 10). You not only “will not give false testimony against your neighbour” (Ex 20, 16; see Pr 12, 22), but “you will excuse, forgive” (Mt 19, 21 – 22). The whole Law and the prophets hang from love to God and to the neighbour (Mt 22, 40)
* Dialogue: How do we confront communion problems that take place in the community?