TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Thus says the LORD:
So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice! Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Brothers and sisters:
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Today there is cultural pressure not to offend anyone with your opinion. The new tolerance aims to silence anyone who says or implies that another person’s actions are wrong. It is contrary to today’s scriptures which tell us plainly that sin should not be enabled. If we are offended by a member of the church who sins against us, we have a great responsibility to act.
When two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, He is there. Refusing to listen to a brother or sister in the church is refusing to listen to God. Such a grave situation demands an action from us. We must let a person know when their soul is in danger.
We have been entrusted with God’s law and we have to be bold and brave enough to speak to our offending neighbor and then to bring the issue to others if they will not listen. To refuse to confront a person on their sin is to refuse to love them. To refuse to love someone and perform the work of mercy of admonishing them is to jeopardize our own soul.
Our God and our Church are counter-cultural in many respects and today, the atmosphere of over-sensitivity and tolerance for injustice works against us. It can bring us persecution and backlash. But for the sake of winning our brothers and sisters, and saving our own souls, we have to do it.