This is why today’s gospel is so important for us. Being a follower of Christ means that I am on a journey. I am not perfect yet. Nobody is! We have seen the example of Pope Peter during these last two Sundays. He had been declared Blessed and Rock by Jesus, and yet he falters … more than once. But Peter was mature enough to listen to Jesus’ rebuke, whom he loved with unparalleled love, and allow that moment to become an experience of growth in his relationship with his master.
In today’s gospel Jesus tells us, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone”. There is so much to think about here. First of all Jesus is referring to the other person as my brother or sister. It is not the enemy, but someone who is doing the same journey with me. Both of us have a common Father who loves us so much that he gave us each other as gifts! Given that often I am not able to see my own mistake, I need someone else to help me in that area. Being helped by another to see my own mistake is, therefore, nothing more than an act of love. Jesus also indicates the way how to do it: quietly, when we are alone. Let’s face it: this is so different to what we usually do. Sometimes it seems that we are experts in noticing the sins of others, and then tell them to everybody else except to the person concerned! How often does it happen that the person concerned is the last one to know what is being said about him or her! This is not Christian. It is, definitely, not an act of love! Keeping in mind what Jesus had told us about the plank in our own eye should help us approach our brother or sister with humility. I do not correct someone because I am better than him or her. Far from it.
Sometimes it happens, unfortunately, that the other person would not listen. Here Jesus highlights the importance of community, when he tells us to take someone else with us to help that person. “Saving” the other person, helping them to get back on the right track, is such an important act in Jesus’ mind. In extreme cases, such a person should even be left alone, away from the community, hopefully to help him realize his mistake. All this is very important because, when someone is in sin, he is not in communion with the rest of the community. Remember that I can never be a Christian on my own. That's why the Eucharist, the sacrament of “communion” as we call it, is so central to our lives. Because in it we celebrate what we really are: one body, the body of Christ. Ultimately, this is what makes our prayer effective, then. Jesus concludes this gospel by emphasizing the importance of our communion with each other: agreeing in what we ask and remembering that when we are together in his name, he is present with us.
The image used by the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading is very beautiful. “I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel” is his vocation. The watchman is always alert and on the lookout to make sure nothing bad befalls his people. As prophets, we too are called to watch over our brothers and sisters to help them from falling into dangerous situations.