God Is There

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

September 6, 2020 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 18:15-20

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In my list of the top three most important words of Jesus, the concluding words of todays’ gospel are to be found. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them>” (Mt. 18:20).

They contain a basic truth of our lives and summarize a basic principle of the message of Jesus. Christianity teaches us about the importance and dignity of each and every person created by God, but it also describes how we should live together. Of special importance is that we are created with and for each other. God intends that we not be soloists or isolated individuals. Importantly, we are all to be interconnected and interdependent with one another. We are all part of God’s family!

It’s helpful to be reminded of this because we live in a society that often values complete individuality. “Doing my own thing” can become a primary goal of life. Individual rights can be placed ahead of communal need. Getting what “I want” can block the rights of others.

Let’s say more about the words of Jesus. They contain a remarkable idea. When we live in positive relationships with others, God is part of our connections. This means that God’s presence is right there in our caring, consideration and loving of others. This is not poetic or sentimental religious language. Rather, it describes “the real world” as God has created it.

And further, what does it means to be “gathered together” in the name of Jesus? Is he only referring to being gathered at Sunday Mass? Or some other religious event? Well, he is certainly referring to such times. But his presence is not limited only to those times.

Whenever we help another person, a family member, a friend, a neighbor, even a stranger, God is there! Whenever we smile at a passer-by, whenever we are courteous to a salesperson, whenever we are generous to others in need, whenever we connect with someone who might feel lonely or overlooked, God is there.

Of course, God’s presence in such exchanges is not obvious. That’s why we do well to reflect on these powerful words of Jesus. Being hidden in the love and concern between us doesn’t mean the absence of God. It simply means we must look deeper.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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