Pentecost 12 :: "If your brother sins against you..."

2011 Scotland Trip 50

Flowers in a fortress...

I remember an office visit by a parishioner many years ago when I first came out of seminary. The woman sat in an easy chair opposite me. Her words were blunt: “You’ve hurt me very much.”

Immediately I felt the weight of my body triple [is this what it means to be weighed down by sin?] as she explained what I had done. Apparently I said something or did something [or didn’t say or do something] to her that she took as a grave offense. It matters not what I did or did not say or do: the fact is that this hurt her very deeply. I just sat there listening to her and feeling like a little child being scolded by a teacher for putting bubblegum in a classmate’s hair. I felt small. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed.

My feelings, though, were as a puff of wind compared to the sense of hurt, betrayal, and disappointment this woman felt by my actions. What courage she must have had to confront me in this way. What determination! She wasn’t angry. She didn’t call me names. Goodness knows she didn’t hit me [and by all fairness, she probably would’ve been justified if she had!]. What she did was point out my sin, her feelings about that, and what she wanted from me. Here she was risking a relationship with her priest, treating me as an adult, and confronting me about my sin. What a tremendous gift to me that was. But what an even greater gift that was to herself! She unburdened herself about my actions in the absolute best way—by talking to me directly.

I left the office that afternoon a bit sheepish but a lot wiser. This was reign-of-God stuff. In the flesh!

Something to ponder:

What would happen if we all acted like that woman?

Link to RCL Lectionary for Pentecost 12

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