How do you resolve conflicts with family, friends, in social situations, in the Church? The key to holiness is not that everything will always be perfect in our lives, but rather how do we deal with problems when they inevitably do arise.

Father Ian VanHeusen presents his weekly reflection on the Mass readings from the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, a beautiful and powerful excerpt from St. Matthew’s gospel, wherein Jesus gives explicit instructions in the process of conflict resolution.

We invite you to watch Father’s video, then prayerfully read the Gospel and reflection. We pray that this might help you in your apostolate, your family, your classroom, or personally… to prepare for and more deeply experience Sunday’s Mass, and to better integrate the Sacrament and the readings into your daily life.

Three insights on dealing fruitfully with conflicts

1. The importance of being direct.

2. The importance of being part of a team.

3. Being willing to ask for the help of others.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (18:15-20)

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Spiritual Exercise

1. Are you having problems with your family or in some other relationship or situation in your life? Examine your relationships and consider how you have used or failed to follow Jesus’ steps above.

2. When have you been confronted by a friend or loved one over a dispute? How did you respond? Were you automatically defensive, or did you humbly listen to the other party’s perspective? Did he or she bring the issue to you in an honest, direct way, or was everything mishandled via gossip or passive aggressive behavior?

3. Brainstorm some strategies for dealing with a conflict or a problem relationship: What language will you use? Do you have sufficient detachment and kindness to confront a conflict, or are you still too emotional? Begin by prayer, yourself. Form a team of other family members or friends who can support you and/or the friend you might need to confront.