Church consists of "loving watchmen."
23nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A

Frank Pavone
September 7, 2014
Ez 33:7-9
Rom 13:8-10
Mt 18:15-20
Reproduced with Permission
Priest For Life

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The readings today provide important insight into the pro-life witness of the Church and of each member of the Church.

Combining the themes of the readings, we can say that the Church consists of "loving watchmen." Because we love God, we love others, and therefore try to persuade others to love the same God and to keep themselves from the destructive harm of sin. When we try to fulfill the exhortation of Ezekiel and of Jesus to engage in the spiritual work of mercy of "admonishing the sinner," we are told - particularly when the sin we are trying to prevent is abortion - that we should "mind our own business."

(Of course, this criticism is not heard when the sins we are trying to prevent are politically correct to prevent, such as harm to the environment.)

Yet it actually is our business to engage in fraternal correction, because God has entrusted us to each other. "The God of the Covenant has entrusted the life of every individual to his or her fellow human beings" (Evangelium Vitae, 76). There is a natural bond of responsibility, because we are all one human family, and there is a mystical communion in grace and a harm that is done to the entire Body of Christ by the sins of each individual. Hence, fraternal correction, and being a "watchman," make sense.

The task is especially urgent when we are speaking up for defenseless human beings who cannot speak for themselves.

The love that Paul describes in the second reading is what infuses the pro-life movement and motivates its participants. Defending the unborn is simply an application of "love your neighbor." Pro-life advocacy, therefore, does not have to be seen as ideologically or politically motivated. It is simply love in action, and love that inspires not only the work of the pregnancy centers and the post abortion healing ministries, but also the legislative efforts, the political efforts, the protests, and every other form of pro-life activity.

The gospel passage today ends with the words, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Why did the Lord say "two or three?" He is there when just one person is present, isn't he? Certainly, he is. But it is when the "other" or "others" show up that we are then able to give ourselves away in love, and that bond of active love between human beings manifests Jesus' presence in the particular way that he highlights in this passage.