In today’s Gospel Jesus encourages us not to give up trying to bring healing in relationships.
We are encouraged to talk to each other about differences and hurts. If we cannot do it by ourselves, then we are encouraged to enlist the help of others.
In the end, when Jesus says treat them as the pagans and tax collectors, we remember how He told us to treat those people.
Matthew and Zacchaeus were tax collectors, both became converted when they met Jesus, as did so many other tax collectors. Jesus was accused of doing something wrong, keeping bad and unclean relationships because He ate with them!
He also cured pagan people in the Gospel. He tells the Church to proclaim the Good News to all, including to pagans.
Certainly, the strong encouragement by Jesus is to treat these people with compassion and understanding.
The first reading reminds us that part of loving is to challenge people in love. There is such a thing as ‘tough love’. Parents need to discipline children otherwise they will not understand boundaries!
The family and friends of an alcoholic, or a person who suffers from some other addiction, need to lovingly challenge a person to change. With wisdom and love, family and friends can make a stand not to become ‘co-dependents’ with such a person.
Given the opportunity, we need to help others understand that there are such things as moral practices and values. There are good and bad morals.
The value of life in all its stages is sacred, thereby abortion, euthanasia, unjust killings, torture, etc., are not good morally.
The unjust treatment of others, modern day slavery, persecution of others, etc. are morally bad. Unhealthy and bad sexual practices are also immoral, etc.
There are times when we can help others to reflect on their actions and to make good decisions.
We are not talking about any sense of thinking ourselves better than others. We need wisdom to be able to be true prophets, witnessing to our faith and calling others to good Christian living.
All this needs to be done in true love as Jesus taught us.
“Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour, that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.” (Rom 13)