December 4, 2012
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 18:19-20.
“Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
On the surface this is a patently untrue statement by Jesus — that anything that two or more of us agree on it shall be granted to us. But yet we tend to cling to this seeming promise. I don’t think this is meant to be remembered or quoted out of its context. In the previous verses Jesus told us to talk to another privately when hurt or injured, to bring about reconciliation so that love may be reestablished. And if that doesn’t work, to bring in another one or two to mediate. I think that’s what this verse is about. When two whose relationship has been rent are reconciled, God will open their hearts to one another so that love may be restored. That is to be our prayer, for the restoration of His kingdom on earth.
In the second verse Jesus is apparently making reference to a teaching that when two sit with the Torah between them “the divine presence rests upon them” according to the New American Bible notes. Jesus implied that he was the divine presence, the very essence of love, compassion, and justice.
This indwelling spirit of Jesus, when I am present to it, is the answer to all my prayers. If I can rest in it, then I will do his will. I will be the love that he wills for the world. I will respond to others with compassion and I will act to assure justice reigns. If I could just approach my troubles and the troubles in the world in this way, with this spirit, with this presence of the indwelling Christ, I believe I would be a channel for God’s peace and a cornerstone of His kingdom. However, most often I let my own selfish concerns and narrowness influence my thinking and guide my actions. I think Jesus is telling me to put him first and all else will follow. So simple, yet so elusive for me!