Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." Get the rest here.
"Where two or three friars are gathered, there is bound to be conflict."
Community living holds a significant difference from the corporate world. If you've ever been to a corporate meeting or a "team building" event at your work site, you realize that the theme is: "Let's do this together...but let's do it my way." One must prove themselves worthy, beneficial, or important for their opinion to be heard by management. Because of this mindset, we often work at jobs where "...my boss is a complete idiot!"
Oh, how we wish for the days when our opinions were heard and things could truly be done the right way!
As a friar living in community, I sometimes miss being told what to do. "But isn't that what obedience is...doing what you're told?" you may ask. Yes, however the Order soon realized that living obedience is easier when you follow someone's directions...and much more complicated when forced to come to a group consensus. But treating each other equally as brothers-in-Christ, we (try) to achieve solutions that benefit everyone.
For example: In the car business, I was not simply told to sell cars. I was told how to sell cars, what habits and tasks would improve my chances of selling cars, I was chastised for not selling the proper amount of cars, and if I challenged what was being taught...the sales manager has many years of success at the car business, and it's hard to tell a successful person they are wrong.
In a religious community, the emphasis is on being obedient to the community. Discussions of house jobs, liturgy, politics, where to park the cars, how to use the dishwasher, how to live poverty, and the ever-violent question of: "Is this what Francis would have wanted?" have existed since the beginning of the Order. Perhaps that was Francis' ultimate challenge: we're not called to live obedience - we're called to live together as brothers in this community.
Yet perhaps the most confusing (and possibly the hardest to live ) part of this Gospel passage is that when everything else fails, you should treat your brother as if he were a Gentile or tax-collector. Knowing that Jesus broke bread with such people and called such people his brethren, what message does that give me when everything I try fails? Perhaps the reality of today's world would rewrite the passage as: "Treat them as you would a telemarketer or one of those drivers that waits until the last second to merge in construction areas (those people give me an angry face!)."
So day to day we try to live as Gospel people and as brothers to each other. There are times when I fall short of that ideal, but my decision to live in community provides me the example and the strength to work with others in ministry. At the best of times we exemplify the Christian community as written within the Bible. Our task is to make everyday a task in living in community.
Parts of this blog post may have been stolen from a homily given by my Novice Master. While I forgot to get permission to use his words for my reflection, I feel this blog post is proof that I in fact DO pay attention. -V