From the Pastor's Desk
The common theme of today’s readings is God’s command concerning spiritual responsibility and our individual accountability for others in our families, parishes and community, which rises from our identity as God’s children and hence as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are, therefore, the “keepers” of our brothers and sisters with the painful responsibility of lovingly and prudently correcting our erring brothers and sisters. This individual responsibility in a Christian society includes fraternal correction of other members and our obligation to forgive our offenders and to ask forgiveness from others for our offenses.
In the first reading, God tells Ezekiel that he is to be a "watchman for the house of Israel,” obliged to warn Israel of moral dangers. If Ezekiel should refrain from speaking God’s word intended to convert the wicked, God will hold Ezekiel responsible for the death of the wicked.
In the second reading, St. Paul points out that the love we should have for one another should be our only reason for admonishing and correcting the sinner. Love seeks the good of the one who is loved. Therefore, we should admonish one another so that we all may repent and grow in holiness.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches that true Christian charity obliges a Christian not only to assist his neighbors in their temporal and spiritual needs with material help and prayer, but also with correction and counsel for an erring brother or sister who has damaged the community by his or her public sin. If the erring one refuses a one-on-one loving correction by the offended party, then the Christian is to try to involve more people: first, "one or two others,” and eventually "the Church." Finally, Jesus mentions the efficacy of community prayer in solving such problems, for Christ is present in the praying Christian community.
1) We are our brother’s/sister’s keeper. Modern believers tend to think that they have no right to intervene in the private lives of their fellow believers. Others evade the issue saying, “As a sinner, I don’t have the moral courage or the right to correct anyone.” But Jesus emphatically affirms that we are our brothers’ keepers, and we have the serious obligation to correct others. Have we offered advice and encouragement to our friends and neighbors and coworkers when it was needed, and loving correction in private for a personal offense where that was possible?
2) Gather in Jesus’ name and work miracles: Today’s Gospel reminds us of the good we can do together, and of how we can do it. Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” If any group of us gather, work, and act with the Holy Spirit guiding us, we will become much more than simply the sum of our numbers. Today, Jesus makes it clear how important we are, one to another. One in Christ, our community can use God’s power to make His healing, life-giving love more effective among His people.