The Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Jesus said, “if another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” — The Gospel of Matthew
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” — The Book of Genesis
In the beginning, Adam was told to till and keep the garden—or, in other words, to serve and protect it. Adam was meant to serve the land rather than it simply serving him—and to protect it so that it may provide “protection” for him—it was a relationship of mutuality. In answering God’s question to Cain about the whereabouts of his brother, Cain draws on this language of keeping or protecting—“Is that my job? To serve and protect my brother?”
What light might this well known exchange between God and Cain shine upon our text for this Sunday in Matthew’s Gospel regarding the correction of a fellow member of the church? Are we responsible for one another? Is there something about sin that is irreducibly social—meaning that it is impossible for sin to ever be a private affair with zero social consequences? What is Jesus saying to his disciples when he demands of us a process for addressing sin among those who have taken the Name?
I look forward to considering this matters with you all Sunday. See you then!