Matthew 18:15-20 – The 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for Sunday, September 7, 2014
â€œIf your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone togetherâ€¦â€ (Matthew 18:15)
Before knowing my father had dementia, I blamed his vexing behaviors on other things.
Dad was elderly and tired. His hearing was awful (and had been for years). Heâ€™d become human cement, set in his ways. He resented, as his body weakened, his loss of independence.
So when he lashed out at me during a visit to Mom and Dadâ€™s home, with his eyes ablaze and jaw clenched and his voice sounding more animal growl than human grumble, I knew where to point my finger: at those â€œother things.â€
â€œGet out of this house,â€ he roared. â€œDonâ€™t come back.â€
Dadâ€™s fury, launched at me with the unnerving abruptness of a lightning strike when the storm is miles away, happened several times before my family recognized he had dementia.
I recall how I felt when my father, the lion in winter, verbally assaulted me. What a cranky old fool! Such a stubborn jerk!
And this too: how dare he sin against me? His son! His guest!
I did not retreat from his fury. Remember, I didnâ€™t know of his dementia. I had those other excuses. I tried to engage him in conversation, to comprehend his leave-my-house demand. I did not return his anger with my anger, or his hurt with my hurt. Like the Gospel of Matthew encouraged, â€œif your brother or sister [or father] sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together.â€
Of course, in the New Testamentâ€™s Greek, there wasnâ€™t a reference to â€œsisterâ€ in the scripture. But we moderns, desiring to be modern, readily and rightly add â€œsisterâ€ in the interpretation. Women are equal opportunity sinners too, right?
And so are fathers. So was Dad. Continue reading →