- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

August 12, 2015

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO [1]

19th Wednesday in Ordinary Time

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, really present among them. The gathering is itself a holy communion, because it is a communion of charity among the members of the Body of Christ. This communion of charity begins with our baptism into Christ, but it needs to be deepened throughout our lives, and it can never be deep enough. Our Lord himself set the standard when he prayed at the first Holy Communion, that they may be perfect in unity.

We can deepen our communion with others only by being attentive both to our own spiritual life, and to the presence of God in other people. A human being in a state of grace is a kind of world, and God never ceases to be and to act at the center of that world. But we ourselves are only vaguely aware of the presence of God in us, and we are even less conscious of his presence in others. And so every human being is something of a mystery: an image of God which is obscure, but which can come out unexpectedly in what a person says or does. With patience and charity, we can learn to appreciate these human mysteries, to discover the depth of meaning in another person’s awkward attempts to communicate what lies deep within him.

If we were only more faithful to the life of grace within us, then every human being in whom this life is present would be a kindred soul to us, would be a link in the communion of charity, and a source of peace and joy for us. The Christian who is faithful learns to pick up the signs of the presence of God in other people, whenever they make themselves known. It is God himself living in us, who recognizes God in other people, and welcomes Him in them. That’s what a communion of charity is all about: two or three meet God in one another, and Christ is there with them.

The main obstacle to this kind of communion is worldliness. Worldly people are those who are superficial – and we are all worldly in so far as we are superficial. Such people have a hard time getting along with other people. They can cause conflicts in a community because of their own lack of an interior life. A real communion of charity requires some effort to understand other people, and superficial people are often uncomfortable with making the effort. They’d rather find fault with others and make excuses for themselves, because that’s how the world plays the game of one-up-manship. But it’s not how Christ wants his members to deal with each other.

There is a peace which the world cannot give, a peace which Our Lord gave to his disciples at that first Holy Communion. If we wish to preserve that peace, to deepen that communion of charity, then we have to get beyond the faults in ourselves and others, in order to find ourselves (and one another) again in God. For it is in God alone that two or three can truly meet, and deepen their communion in charity, and finally be made perfect in unity.