Summary: Jesus is saying that we are not to be only concerned with someone’s material well- being but also for their moral and spiritual good. Hebrews 13:17 says to “watch over souls as one who will give an account.”
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."-- This verse from Matthew’s Gospel for today reminds me of a story of a pastor of a small Baptist church in a drought-stricken part of Alabama last summer who implored his people to pray for rain. In fact, he asked each member of the church to join in a prayer vigil that would continue day and night until God granted their request.
Never had there been a greater sense of urgency in that church than was revealed over the next few days. At any hour one might pass that small rural church and find the lights on and someone at the altar praying.
Finally late Wednesday evening some dark clouds began to roll in. Soon rain began falling in torrents. For four straight days it rained without ceasing. The creeks began overflowing their banks. It became necessary to evacuate persons from their homes. Still the water kept rising. The entire community was now under water.
As rescue workers made their way in a boat through the perilous floodwater evacuating the last reluctant stragglers, one of the boats passed that little country church now almost completely submerged.
There on the roof of the church sat the pastor with a look of grand satisfaction on his face. As he surveyed the floodwaters he could be heard saying to himself, “Not bad for a church like ours. Not bad at all.”
Regarding the two or three gathered in a prayer session. God has called us into community with one another, He said He would dwell in US and walk among US, meaning that when we are in deep fellowship, community and a sharing of our lives together, there He is. If anyone else has experienced this same sort of commitment, then you will know the power that is released when 2 or 3 or more are gathered.
e.g. An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered them to bring in a bundle of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.”
The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. The other sons also tried, but none succeeded.
“Untie the bundle,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he told them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken.
The moral us--In unity is strength.
We are responsible for one another as we can see from our Gospel text this Sunday, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Jesus is saying that we are not to be only concerned with someone’s material well- being but also for their moral and spiritual good.
Hebrews 13:17 says to “watch over souls as one who will give an account.”
It’s not passing judgment but about caring for the person.
A good slogan is “don’t be a persecutor, enabler or a victim; (victim in this sense means to stop expecting someone else to rescue you).
The Catholic term for this is "fraternal correction," something that the Holy Spirit or Advocate does for us interiorly if we listen. There is a saying that "conscience is as good as a thousand witnesses." E.g. Step 10-Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."
When it’s done by a human person, it has to be done with love and charity, or it’s like surgery without anesthesia!
In ancient Judaism, the terms to bind and loose were associated with the authority to teach and to grant or withhold forgiveness of sin. With this authority was given to Peter in Matthew 16:18, and now with the Roman Pontiff uniquely, it is now bestowed on the disciples as a whole. So, note carefully that the whole community has a role in binding and loosening offenses as per Matthew 18:18 in our Gospel text this Sunday.
e.g. Chuck Colson was the hatchet man for Richard Nixon since he carried out controversial and illegal tasks and he pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing justice. After he got out, he became active in prison ministry and he wrote a book. He said in this book, that “in today’s fiercely individualistic culture, people resent being told what to do, and since we don’t want to “scare them off,” we succumb to cultural pressures. But too often we confuse love with permissiveness. It is not love to fail to dissuade another believer from sin any more than it is love to fail to take a drink away from an alcoholic or matches away from a baby. True fellowship out of love for one another demands accountability.” (Chuck Colson, The Body, p. 130).