We Are Brought Once Again, Face To Face, With The Mystery Of God
This is a very consoling passage. It comes immediately after a short reflection on how to deal with the matter of sin within the Church. There is a three step process outlined for getting the sinner to see, admit, and to turn away from his or her sinful ways. Sin makes life difficult for everybody, victim and sinner alike. But mercy and forgiveness are at the core of our Christian faith. Since we have been forgiven, it is our duty to forgive as well. And, as we know from the Lord’s Prayer, we will be forgiven just as we have forgiven. If we bind others, by refusing to forgive, that willful lack of forgiveness will be bound on us. If we forgive willingly and freely, so shall our sins be loosed and forgiven.
It is after these powerful and challenging thoughts that Jesus turns our attention to prayer and the Father’s will to respond to our prayers. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”
Here we are brought, once again, face to face with the mystery of God. Is not God always with us? Are we not “temples of the Holy Spirit?” Good questions, but as always, the answer is a paradox. If we sin willfully, we push God out of our lives, out of the temples of our souls. Yet, the greater truth is that God never abandons us. He waits patiently, and forgives as quickly as the blinking of an eye, if we turn to him again. It is also true that, if we are walking in his ways, not rebelling against them and sinning in any way, he is with us in the depths of our beings. The psalmist reveals a truth about God’s presence to us as well: “You have searched me and you know me, Lord…From your presence where can I flee.” (Psalm 139) God is everywhere, deep within me, and all around me, at all times. Where can I go and not be in his sight? Nowhere! This is why sin is such foolishness. And yet, we are, each one of us, sinners.
Jesus deepens the wondrous mystery of God’s presence when he tells the disciples, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” There is an intimacy here that is beyond us, except in faith. How is it possible to express such a mystery in simple words? God is present through his Holy Spirit within each of us If we are willingly and joyfully walking in his ways. And, he also enters into deepening intimacy of presence when those who walk in God’s ways come together to pray for some agreed upon need within their own lives, within the Church, or within the world. It is as if God’s presence is somehow multiplied by the coming together of even two or three righteous, yet humble souls. For when we gather together in prayer, recognizing our need, our mutual need, God responds. Jesus tells us in another place: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) Now, think of the whole Christian Church coming together in agreement to pray in Jesus’ name. That thought is larger than we can wrap our minds around. But is that not our calling? Imagine if there were no divisions within the Christian body, that the Church was one and undivided, and came together in agreement to pray for the peace that only God can bring into the world.
Let the whole Christian Church contemplate and act in accord with this great mystery of God’s presence. And let us come together agreeing that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us pray, then, for one another and for the world in Jesus’ name. When you and I come together in Jesus’ name as you read this reflection, let us pray together for the conversion of the world, that all will come to know him and believe in him. God will respond. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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