Today’s Gospel reminds us of how important it is to gather with the Church each weekend for Mass. Jesus assures his disciples that “wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He is there with them.” Our confidence in his promise assures us that Jesus is here with us now as we celebrate the Eucharist together. A reminder of the five ways that Jesus is present: In each baptized person, in the assembled community, in the priest presiding in his name, in Word, and in Sacrament. Aware that God is with us in our midst, we raise our voices and lift our hearts to the Lord.
The first part of our Gospel is a reminder of our call of fraternal connection. We are called to kindly and respectfully counsel the sinner, encouraging them to change. We are to listen to the counsel of others also when it is we who need to change. Jesus tells his disciples that if their loved one will not listen to them in private, “take one or two others along with you.” Sounds like what we would call an intervention. Bring together friends or family who care dearly about the person so they can persuade them to get help to change their ways. This is done with the understanding that their destructive behavior can cloud their judgment and that those who love them want them to get better.
Then Jesus told his disciples that if a sinner will not listen to anyone and will not change their behavior, that they should “Treat him or her as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” This sounds like Jesus is encouraging his disciples to ostracize stubborn sinners. But we have to consider how Jesus treated them. He spent time with them, he responded to their needs, he healed them, he cared for them, he even called them to be his disciples. The disciple who wrote down these words was a tax collector. It became apparent after further reflection that Jesus was not calling them to be dismissive of these sinners, but to reconcile with them. With whom do we need to reconcile? At a recent priest meeting, one of them described the priest confessor as a sinner forgiving sinners. How true!!
Love, Peace, Joy,