Summary: Avoidance of conflict prevents persons from discovering God's will in their personal and institutional lives.

Palmer Chinchen tells of the time when he went whitewater rafting down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. The guide gave them some very important instructions after they put on all their safety gear. He began with “When the raft flips.” Notice the guide didn’t say “if the raft flips.” “When the raft flips, stay in the rough waters in the middle of the river.

“Why did the guide instruct them to remain floating in the turbulent water in the middle of the river? Because, the guide said, the still water on the edge of the river that looks so calm and safe, in reality, is filled with crocodiles.

Don’t avoid the rough waters of conflict if you must deal with an issue.

Avoidance of conflict prevents persons from discovering God's will in their personal and institutional lives. At times, you are obliged to listen to criticism; it’s part of being a leader.

1.The first step in conflict resolution for non-legal matters is to go and tell the fault to your brother or sister who sinned against you.

When a crime has been committed, it should be reported, except for the small claims that Jesus mentions in Matthew 5:40, “If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well.”

However, there are many other conflicts and grievances that are not crimes. That is what Jesus is talking about today in our Gospel.

First, ask yourself, perhaps I offended the person in the past, but never made it right. You can’t be reconciled to the offender until you ask forgiveness for your own wrongs.

And 1 Cor. 6:7 says to ignore trivial matters, and Proverbs 12:16 says that “a fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”

Plus, your motivation may be to “offer up” the injustice for your sanctification and reduce or eliminate purgatory time. If you should speak to the person who offended you then know that, while difficult, sanctification remains a demanding, incremental process that cannot be short-circuited in this life. “Remember to focus on Christ’s promise and not the pain of the day or the emotional attributes of the angry. You need to have the quiet conviction to succeed and keep moving toward your ultimate future goals. [source: “How to Deal with Criticism,” Rex. P. Gatto and Mickey Gatto, The Priest Magazine, April 2019].

It might be more helpful, however, to see YOU are the estranged person who sinned or hurt someone, and your brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by grace, are trying to keep you connected, but you ignored them, and the Church.

We have all been deaf to the one-on-one pleading for change and repentance from parents, teachers, and spouses. Maybe, at this stage, we may be treated as a Gentile or a tax collector.

However, based on such sinners in the Bible as Zacchaeus or even St. Matthew, Jesus may insist that I am not lost if I follow him into new life.

2. If talking privately does not work, then discuss the matter with one or two other people who are witnesses, not to the offense, but rather to the unwillingness of the offender to be reconciled.

If that does not work, then excommunication is the final step. Keep in mind that most excommunications in the Church happen by a latae sententiae penalty, which is one that follows ipso facto or automatically, if certain stringent conditions are met (Canon 1323 in the Code of Canon Law).

Examples include having an abortion, a priest directly breaking the seal of confession. Some bishops do not allow a Pro-Choice Catholic politician to receive Holy Communion in their diocese although this is not a formal excommunication. Consider too that when we die, there will an apocalyptic resolution to all conflict by God’s fair judgement.

Hebrews 13:17 says to “watch over souls as one who will give an account.”

We are to be concerned with someone’s material well-being and their moral and spiritual good. Dean Inge, in a quote which is usually applied to us in the Church, “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”

Our First Reading tells us that if we do not try to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death, says God.

Our First Reading, also says that “I have appointed you as a watchman”

Do a night watch. As J. Lee Grady said, “There are moments in our lives when the Lord may woo us to spend time with Him in the night hours. Many of us are too distracted by the busyness of life to hear God call us to a season of prayer. Yet the Lord is looking for people to who will listen to His battle secrets. Will you let Him pray through you?”

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