Do I have to be
Jesus said to his disciples: “Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
There is a very close parallel between today’s Old Testament reading, Epistle, and Gospel. They all speak of a set of inter-related obligations we have as members of the Church. It is our call and obligation to be responsible for our brothers and sisters, to hold them accountable, and to do all of this in the spirit of love.
This call and obligation originate in our baptism. In baptism we are regenerated and made members of the Holy Church, the Body of Christ here on earth. As members and parts of the Body, we are responsible for taking care of the rest of the Body. As St. Paul tells us: But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
This responsibility extends to taking care of the parts of the Body that are sick – not just those who are physically or emotionally ill, but also those who are spiritually ill. This is one of the very hardest things to do, to encounter a Christian suffering in sin and to discuss it with them, to call them back to truth and faithfulness.
How hard is it to visit a sick person? That can make us feel uncomfortable. It reminds us of our human frailty. So much more is there fear in confronting a sinner. Not only is it uncomfortable, it reminds us that we sin and fall; that one day we too may be visited by someone who will call us back to faithfulness.
We must work diligently and pray for the courage to reach out to those who persist in sin, who have fallen away, or who bring division to the Body. This is an obligation of love. When we take up our responsibility we must be very careful so that it does not turn to judgmentalism or arrogance. As St. Paul notes: Love does no evil to the neighbor.
As we pray, we are given the grace and courage to lovingly call to the sick members of the Body to do what is right and to return. We are reassured that just as we act on our responsibility in a faithful manner, others will act responsibly toward us and bring us back when we fall ill with sin.
As we strive to live out our responsibilities, Jesus assures us that He remains with us. This gives us the confidence needed to take the track of loving responsibility.