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Conflict Resolution

14 Aug

conflict resolution1Today’s Gospel, from Matthew 18, gives us the blueprint for peaceably resolving our differences with others. Jesus teaches us to first reach out privately to the person who has sinned against us. If that doesn’t work, we seek out the assistance of one or two others. Then, if necessary, we entrust the matter to the judgment of the Church.

Yet when we’re aggrieved by someone in our society, we tend to insist upon our legal rights. We demand satisfaction in one form or another.

The approach of the Church, having the mind of Christ, is much different. The goal is salvation–and not simply that, but “communion” with one another in Christ. The person is more important than the wrong he or she committed.

Yet as Christians, when someone hurts us, how often do we start talking down the other person to others and perhaps even via social media like Facebook and Twitter? And if we’re influential enough, we’ll even call a press conference to disseminate our side of the story through whatever media outlet is available to us.

That’s surely not what Our Lord is teaching in Matthew 18. I think that the best rule of thumb for dealing with conflicts is to limit our communications about people who have wronged us as much as possible, and when we do talk about them, we only involve those persons who can be part of the solution. In other words, we must be respectful of the person with whom we have the conflict, and we must always to seek to bring about healing, not further strife and enmity.

We should be aware that when we vent our frustrations to a third person, we could easily fall prey to the sin of detraction. This sin involves disclosing–without a legitimate reason for doing so–another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them (cf. Catechism, no. 2477). Detraction is an offense against the truth–not because what we’re saying is untruthful (if it were, then the sin would be defamation, not detraction), but because we’re using the truth to injure rather than to heal.

Rather than settle for division with our neighbor, let’s seek “communion” and unity at every turn. For at the conclusion of today’s Gospel we hear that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”