If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you . . . . Go and be reconciled to that person (Matthew 5:23-24).
They sit beside each other on a straw mat—he in beige trousers and a white-and-purple shirt, she in a blue-and-yellow dress. “I participated in the killing of the son of this woman,” says Francois, one of thousands of Hutu men who perpetrated crimes against Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. “He killed my child,” says Epiphanie, “then he came to ask my pardon.”
A mother sitting by her son’s killer? How can this be? Through reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a common thread in Jesus’ teaching. He blesses the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), teaches non-retaliation in conflict (Matthew 5:38-42), and calls us to forgive those who’ve wronged us (Matthew 6:12,14-15).
Jesus wants us to pursue reconciliation in all of our relationships. He gives two examples of areas where conflict will naturally arise—in church and in society. If at church we remember we’ve offended someone, we’re to ask that person’s forgiveness before we continue to participate in other activities (Matthew 5:23-24). And if a dispute arises with a neighbour, we’re to seek reconciliation before the neighbour takes the matter to court (Matthew 5:25-26). Jesus’ directive extends to all of our relationships: When we’re the offender, we’re to admit our fault and be reconciled.
Jesus never said reconciliation would be easy. It wasn’t for Him (2 Corinthians 5:19-21). And it hasn’t been for Rwandans, where reconciliation has required time, training, mediation, and prayer. But if Epiphanie and Francois can reconcile, can’t that breathe hope into us?
“Before,” Epiphanie says of Francois, “I treated him like my enemy. But now, I would rather treat him like my own child.”
In Christ, even deep conflict and pain can be transformed by reconciliation.
This passage first appeared on http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/