Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Memorial)
We often associate today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 18:20) with intercession. We find great comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us even when only a few of us gather to pray for people! But there is more going on here than intercession. If you look at the stories that surround this passage, you can see that Jesus is talking about another particular time when he is present with us: when we come together to repair relationships.
You can imagine Jesus needing to teach his followers about how to handle wounded relationships. After all, they were ordinary human beings like us. They bickered over who was the greatest, they disagreed about who did the most work, and they surely rubbed each other the wrong way at times. So Jesus wanted to teach them how to get reconciled.
It’s hard to talk about what we’ve done wrong. It’s even harder to bring up a wrong done to us and do it in a loving and humble way. And it’s hardest of all to forgive and start anew. We need God’s grace to begin this process at all, and we really need his help to do it well. That’s why Jesus promised to be with his disciples—with us—whenever we gather to do the hard work of rebuilding a relationship wounded by sin or weakness.
You can probably think of a relationship in your life that could use some fixing right now. Maybe you feel that it’s time to take the first step and reach out. That might well be the Holy Spirit.
Jesus longs to see his children forgiving one another just as he forgave us. He is so dedicated to our reconciliation that he promises to be with us every step of the way. When you’re holding the phone and trying to muster up the courage to call, he is there to help you do it. When you’re sitting down together for that difficult conversation, he is there to give you loving words and grace to listen well. When things get tense, he is there to give you self-control and compassion. He is there to work miracles every time we try to choose unity over division!
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace and reconciliation.”
Psalm 66:1-3, 5, 8, 16-17
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