To All at St. Francis,
In the verses preceding today’s Gospel passage, Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the lost sheep among the flock of one hundred. Great effort is expended by the caring shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine in order to seek out the one who has gone astray. Jesus then likens the Father to the shepherd who is vigilant in guarding his flock and making sure that none are lost. It is this context that we are to read today’s teaching on how disputes within the community are not to lead to permanent division but must be resolved through a process of forgiveness.
All of this culminate in Jesus alluding to the ministry of reconciliation as carried out by the Church. The Church as a whole is given the authority to determine what sins are to be “bound” and “loosed”. Furthermore, Jesus concludes the instruction by ensuring his disciples of the efficacy of prayer and the importance of community. When two or more come together to pray, they must believe that the Father will hear their prayer. The source of this confidence is found in the presence of the Lord in the midst of his assembled Church. Thus, in their ministry of forgiveness and in their petition of the Lord’s aid, the community of believers experiences the presence of Jesus in their midst.
Peace & All Good,