Readings for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost
Matthew 18:1-20; Romans 13:1-10; Ezekiel 33:7-9
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Even as he was saying it, Cain knew the answer to that question. Despite all the posting, sharing, networking and crowdsourcing that technology has made possible, most of us still operate with a mindset that is individualistic. My life – not to mention my faith – is my business and no one else’s. Offering warning or correction to someone other than your own children is considered very bad manners – however well intended.
In Sunday’s Gospel reading Jesus offers a strong corrective to this individualistic way of thinking. Every Christian has a responsibility to his or her fellow believers – particularly to children and others who are young in their faith. Our responsibilities include setting a good example for others to follow and loving one another enough to speak up if we see a fellow Christian’s life heading in a wrong direction. As one commentator put it: “The most important Christian… is the one who is weakest, struggling the most most in need of patience and nurture and forgiveness.” (Matt 18).
We hear this same theme of responsibility for our fellow believers echoed in the Old Testament reading where the prophet Ezekiel is appointed to be the watchman of Israel (Ezek 33).
In the Epistle reading, Paul calls for Christians to be upstanding citizens, obeying laws, paying taxes and showing respect for those in government. All this is part and parcel of loving our neighbor because it contributes to the general welfare of a just and peaceful society (Rom 13).