Gospel Meditation

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is a fascinating promise. Jesus enlightens us today about the power of communal faith. He emphasizes that a gathering of like-minded believers, small though it may be, has a powerful effect. As he tells his disciples, “If two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.”

Alright then, what are we waiting for? We should take Jesus up on this amazing offer! Going to Mass is one way to do so. When we gather together every Sunday, we do more than listen to readings and receive the Eucharist. We also pray together. The priest leads us in these prayers, of course, but we are meant to join with him, as the Second Vatican Council put it, with “fully conscious, and active participation” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #14). We are to make the prayers our own by attentively joining in with them from our hearts. Mindlessly reciting “Amen” or absently whispering the words of the Our Father likely loses the effect Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel. But truly praying together with our parish community certainly fits the bill.

We need not be at church to fulfill this kind of prayer, however. It only takes two! Those of us who live with others can exercise communal prayer every day in our own homes, just by joining each other for a few moments of petition or praise. Those who live alone may need to reach out more deliberately, but it only takes a phone call to “gather together” with another believer and offer up our prayers. May we have the courage to invite others to join us as we bring our needs to God.