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Practicing reconciliation.

Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

Today's growing interest in mediation underscores the practical wisdom in Jesus' patient step-by-step approach to reconciliation and Paul's pedagogy on the golden rule. Within the faith community, Jesus shows a very human process of self-governance that attempts to avoid embarrassing people and searches for the gentlest way possible to rebuke the offender and reunite the parties. He also contrasts this approach with the spiritual grandstanders who would use their demonstrable "gifts" for authoritarian control of others. Jesus reminds them, and us, that when "two or more are gathered," he will be there. That's authority enough.

Paul broadens this seeking of justice to all neighbors, trusting that loving "your neighbor as yourself" remains viable. Litigation? Incarceration? "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10).

Utterly impractical? The festival of Passover in Exodus 12 (with its musical soundtrack in Psalm 149) gives a perpetual reminder of God's presence and functional power in the most wretched times and impossible situations. Remembering God delivering the people from servitude in Egypt, the festival offers a vision of worshiping as one and relating as a restored people "throughout your generations ..." (Exodus 12:14). Paul explores this seeking for justice, saying retribution bas become obsolete and dysfunctional (and certainly not of God) from the local to the international.

In many states prison populations have tripled or quadrupled in the last 25 years. It is time to try a new way, the way of reconciliation--which, honestly, is a very old way.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SEPTEMBER 4
Author:Roth, Robert
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Previous Article:Restorative justice.
Next Article:Forgiveness of debts.

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