In our readings today there is a very strong relation between the first reading and the gospel reading. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God reminds us that silence is not an option while dealing with society especially if you see a brother or sister going astray. God wants us to raise our voices and speak on behalf of Him. God said to the prophet, “If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, “and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” We may think that this message is only for prophets and those who are not prophets are not affected by this message. Through baptism, all Christians are chosen to be prophets of God. The Church is a gathering of prophets. There is a prevailing misunderstanding that prophets are those who foretell events. Well, some prophets may reveal the future but, a prophet by definition is one who speaks on behalf of God. It is God’s choice if He shall reveal the future through a particular person. The primary duty of God’s prophet is to deliver His messages to the world. A prophet is God’s spokesperson on earth. Deliver the message irrespective of the content. Some messages may be of consolation and encouragement; it may be easy to deliver such messages. Some of them may be hard, hurting, and sour; they may not be received well. The messenger may not be appreciated.
We are all ambassadors of Christ and our aim in life is to win everyone to Christ because everyone belongs to Christ. Hence we are all duty bound to make sure that no one looses his or her connection to Christ. My work as a watchman or watchwoman is to look and safeguard others from any harm because if you do not do anything you will be answerable to the one who employed you. Today is a day when we need to examine ourselves if l am a pulling or a pushing factor in the vineyard of the Lord. How many people have l drawn closer to God or how many people have left the Church because of me.
How to do this job? Jesus gives the answer through today’s Gospel. He gave us four steps of doing our prophetic role.
1. Go to the offender in private. Discuss the issue in private. If it fails take the next step;
2. Take one or two with you as witnesses, so that together you may convince. If it fails too,
3. Go to the community or Church. If you can’t win that person, then,
4. Treat him like a gentile or a tax collector.
As Christians, we are called to refrain from gossiping and to be courageous to take on the offender in a gentle manner. It is not about winning a debate; it is about winning a person; it is about letting love and charity win. Love shall be the ultimate guideline in all our attempts. The first three steps of winning a person are self-explanatory; but the final step: treating one like a gentile or a tax collector should be understood based on the values taught and lived by Jesus. Jesus never hated them. Jesus held them in high esteem. Remember Jesus waiting for the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob. Remember the story where the tax collector who went up to the Temple to pray; he stood far behind with his head bending down with a monosyllable prayer. Jesus rated him far above the self-righteous pharisee. How can we forget the story of the good Samaritan?
Jesus is clear here; we do not have to hate someone for the differences. We do not have to compromise to please anyone. Attempting to please everyone is not really Christian. Try pleasing God in everything. Jesus is only calling us to be ambassadors of love. It is a contradiction to come for mass everyday but you have people you cannot forgive in your life. Let us be reconciled with one another then we come to worship God in spirit and in truth.