Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 33:7-9
Matthew 18:15-20

I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.

This quotation is so familiar that over the years I have taken for granted what it means. That it teaches us something about prayer would be the most obvious interpretation. From a monastic perspective it’s the promise that Christ is there every time we gather that takes my attention. While the communal times of prayer are the principle way in which we gather as monastics, alongside this there several more forms of gathering. Christ is present in all of these.

We gather around the common table. Meals eaten in silence and in common are a place into which we can invite Christ. The monastic refectory shares many of the ceremonials of the chapel. We gather at recreation. We take time in the day to come together to listen to each other. We sometimes gather for a work project or a meeting. Ideally we consciously invite Christ to be present here too. We gather when someone goes on a significant journey. Here our prayers for safety and a fruitful trip are implicit. We gather at a deathbed. When I entered, depending on the circumstances and time of a sister’s death, a bell would summon us to a sister’s bedside. In all of these gatherings we hope to be aware that Christ is present.

Where will you gather this coming week?
Where will Christ be with you?