23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 10, 2017
“For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Do we really believe that the Lord is present whenever we pray together in his name? Notice that he says “where two or more are gathered…” This is why we pray together and not only individually. The Lord expects us to be in fellowship with other Christians to support and aid them as well as to receive support. The Lord never envisioned a church of one, but expects us to come together regularly, especially on Sundays. We see this clearly in the Our Father. Notice Jesus doesn’t say My Father, but Our Father! Of course, our Lord is with us when we pray alone, but he also expects us to be praying together regularly. Without this, we are incomplete Christians!
Once in a previous parish I was called out to the home of a dying man living in a very small trailer. Rather, I should say his wife wanted me to come out. He himself wanted nothing to do with religion or a priest. As I approached the house, I could hear screaming and blasphemies; and, of course, it was with some trepidation that I knocked on the door! How could the Lord possibly be present in a situation like this?
Plucking up my courage, I knocked on the door. Inside, I found this man lying on a bed, dying and unhappy. He calmed down as I approached. After we conversed, I offered to pray with him and he said something like “If it makes you feel good, Father.” So we joined in a circle: me, the wife who invited me and this tortured soul. As we prayed, the most remarkable thing happened! Into our circle came a dog and a cat. I had my eyes closed so I was surprised to see these two animals looking up at us happily as we finished our prayers, as if they were praying with us.
Well, to this angry man, this was a real miracle. He told me that these two animals absolutely never got along and were always separated (he didn’t know how they both got in the house). He had never even seen them in the same room together peacefully. To him, this was a sure sign that Christ had been present in the midst of us and I am sure this was, in fact, the case. He died, reconciled to God and the church, convinced that the Lord had joined us in prayer!
Of course, Jesus is always present with us in the Eucharist and in so many other ways as well, particularly when we join with someone else in prayer. This also applies to intercessory prayer. Though usually invisible to our sight, the Lord promised to be always with us!