Matthew 18:15-20 for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.
What is it to be two or three gathered in the name of Christ?
Today in his Gospel, Christ is speaking not to a crowd, but to his disciples only; and he uses the word church.
Speaking to his disciples as his church, he expects them to act and pray as those who are gathered together in my name.
We begin every Mass by having gathered together and invoking the name of the Lord— Father, Son and Holy Spirit— while we make the SIGNUM CRUCIS— the Sign of the Cross.
At the CRUCIfixion of the Lord, at the most literally CRUCIAL moment, only his mother, a few other women and the disciple John gathered together in Christ’s name at the event and sign of his cross.
Out of this small group, Christ singled out just two, and put them together as if these two were the closest to him in name and in deed.
They were his mother and his disciple John.
From his cross, Christ said to his mother: Woman, behold, your, son!
Then he said to his disciple: Behold, your mother!
It was from the CROSS that Christ assembled the CHURCH in his NAME.
From the cross, he spoke directly to only two other individuals besides his mother and John.
He spoke directly to the repentant criminal who was also suffering crucifixion, and he spoke directly to the Father in heaven.
To be two or three gathered in Christ’s name is not so simple or automatic, and it appears it is not entirely or always our initiative.
Even though Christ himself promised to be in the midst of those gathered in his name, it still belongs to Christ alone to judge who are REALLY gathered in his name.
At the most literally CRUCIAL moment— at his CRUCIfixion— the only individuals to whom Christ spoke directly were his heavenly Father, his mother, John his disciple and the repentant criminal.
Of these four, the only one whose relationship to Christ we could fully claim for ourselves would be that of the repentant criminal.
To gather in Christ’s name and to receive his presence in our midst, we must repent and confess that we are sinners.
Indeed, that is how the Church begins the Mass: confessing that we are sinners.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned….
Then, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Body and Blood Offered in Sacrifice on the Cross, the Crucial Sacrament, Christ himself makes good his promise to be in our midst.
Turn. Love. Repeat.
Dear Readers of “Turn. Love. Repeat.”
California where I reside had a new law go into effect on January 1, 2020. California Assembly Bill 5 forbids freelance writers, editors and photographers from providing more than 34 content submissions to a media organization per year unless the organization hires the freelancer as a salaried employee. Patheos is a media organization, and I am a freelancer. So now I must limit my posts to 34 per year, or 1 post about every 10 days.
So as not to exceed my legal limit, between my postings here at Patheos I will publish my “extra” pieces at my personal blog, Monk Notes.