A reflection by Br. Errol Slacedo
I always appreciate friends, married couples, nuns or priests living their vows faithfully amidst of their pains and struggles along the way. One time, a friend said something to me which until now I could not forget, “You know there are things that I do not like from my wife but because of my love for her, I have to stay with her.” Here, I come to realize the beauty of love lingering in lives of Christian communities which I could say that when there is love, God is also present (1 Jn 4:7-8).
The last part of the gospel for today says, “For where two or three gathered in my name, I am there in your midst.”(Mt. 18:20) This passage gives me the inspiration to reflect on what the Lord Jesus emphasized about the main section of the reading,
“If your brother has sinned against you, go and point out the fault to him; if he listens, you have won him back, but if not you have to call the witnesses. And, if he refuses to listen, tell it to the Church. But if he does not listen to the Church, then regard him as pagan or tax collector.” (Mt. 18:15-17)
In this context of the gospel, I will presume that St. Mathew wrote it to the early Jewish-Christian community. The purpose of this was to teach them about the moral life and responsibilities of every person according to the Lord Jesus, through the teachings of the apostles. The gospel reading even emphasized that “whatever you bind upon earth will be bound to heaven” (Mt. 18:18). Here, the gospel does not only talk about the moral responsibilities but also on how the Christians live in the community in the light of love and genuine service. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul pronounced the importance of love as source of community life. According to him, “Love cannot do the neighbor any harm; so love fulfills the entire law” (Rom. 13:10). Laws are made to help the people in their relationship with God and one another (cf. Mk 2:27) Here, we understand the importance of love as the key to fraternal dialogue and communion with God. The one who loves another fulfills the law because without love, anything that we do has no value. It is a moral responsibility of every Christian to take care and look after the other especially the last, the least and the lost. If we express our love by teaching and listening to one another, we would find God present in our family and community, because everybody feels safe and at peace, because everybody feels a that there is always somebody who cares.
Therefore, God is truly present in the community when love governs all people. God hears their prayers and He will provide their needs as long they call God with one heart and one voice. (Rom.15:6) Relating this to my present community, it is a pleasure to serve it through the roles and responsibilities we are playing according to the talents and skills we have received. In serving my brothers and sisters, there is always peace and joy especially when I see them smiling because I did something good for the community. God is indeed present when we take care of one another. By doing acts of love and kindness especially in this time of pandemic, we are never lonely or unloved. We have our family, friends, neighbors, the community. But most importantly, because we live out what it means to be the Body of Christ, then our Head, Jesus, is also with us.