Jesus a first century conflict resolution consultant. Jesus knew that conflict exists. His very coming into this world had caused conflicts in the Jewish society of his time, and in his public life he was often right in the middle of conflict. He also knew that conflict does not just magically disappear. He gives very specific advice on what we are to do. He isn’t just telling us how to resolve conflict – he is really telling us how to live in community together. But he knows that whenever human beings come together, there will be disagreements. Our challenge is to work out those disagreements and to do so while still loving and remaining in relationship with one another.
Many years ago, there was a woman who lived in a small village in France. Trained as a nurse, she devoted her life to caring for the sick and the needy. After many years of kind and selfless service to the village’s families, the woman died. She had no family of her own, so the townsfolk planned a beautiful funeral for her, a fitting tribute to the woman to whom so many owed their lives. The parish priest, however, pointed out that, because she was a Protestant, she could not be buried in the town’s Catholic cemetery. The villagers protested, but the priest didn’t relent. It was not easy for the priest either, because he too had been cared for by the woman during a serious illness. But the rules of the Church were very clear; she would have to be buried outside the fence of the cemetery. The day of the funeral arrived, and the whole village