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The Watchman (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Posted : Sep-07-2023

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The role of the watchman in the Ancient Near East is to warn the inhabitants of the city of impending invasion. He must inform them so that the inhabitants can react accordingly. If he fails to warn them, and the city falls to the invaders, the responsibility falls on him. But if he warns the city and its inhabitants fail to respond, they are responsible for their own fall.

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. (Ezekiel 33:6)

If the prophet warns the people, however, then he has done his job. It is not his job to make the people respond. If they fail to do so, the prophet is absolved of any responsibility for their fate.

The same responsibility falls on us today when we see those around us going astray from righteousness. Christians today must act as a prophetic voice who must urge those around us to repent and turn back to God, lest they perish. It is not up to us to compel them to make that decision. It is on us, however, to declare the truth and model it in our daily lives. As St. Paul once declared, “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)

J. Luis Dizon