In our overly-litigious society, Jesus’ words that we are to make an effort to settle the matter on the way are a good call to refocus. This call shifts the emphasis from winning to healing, and it calls us to do some hard things. In order to settle the matter, we will have to communicate and be open to the fact that we may be in the wrong. If we are open to settling things the way Jesus would have us do it, we might find ourselves growing in maturity and faith, and becoming better people in the process.
But even that is not the primary focus of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus begins by chiding the crowds for failing to interpret the signs of the times. Time is short, he says, and we don’t have forever to come to repentance, we don’t have forever to fix our broken relationships, we don’t have forever to set wrong things right. Now is the time, because the time for salvation is nearer now than it ever was.
We would do well to hear this same message. We need to be about the business of setting things right, fixing relationships, settling long-standing arguments, because the time for salvation is near. What if the return of our Lord finds us mired deep in age-old hurts, resentments, and feuds. God forbid.