HE IS AMONG US
Although Jesus’ words as recorded by Matthew are of great importance for the life of our Christian communities, they haven’t often received the attention of commentators and preachers. This is Jesus’ promise: «Where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them».
Jesus isn’t thinking about massive celebrations like those in the Plaza of St. Peter’s in Rome. Though only two or three, he’s there in their midst. It’s not necessary that the hierarchy be present; it’s not so much how big the group is.
What’s important is that «they gather together», not dispersed, not debating: not putting one another down. What’s decisive is that they come together «in his name»: that they listen to his call, identify with his project of God’s Reign. That Jesus be the center of their small group.
This living and real presence of Jesus is what needs to enliven, guide and sustain the small communities of his followers. It’s Jesus who has to breathe in their prayer, their celebrations, their projects and activities. This presence is the «secret» of every living Christian community.
We Christians can’t gather together in our groups and communities in just any old way: out of custom, or inertia or just to fulfill some religious obligation. We may be many, or often few. But what’s important is that we gather together in his name, attracted by his person and by his project of making a more human world.
We need to reawaken the awareness that we are communities of Jesus. We gather to listen to his Gospel, to keep alive his memory, to be infected with his Spirit, to welcome in ourselves his joy and his peace, to announce his Good News.
The future of the Christian faith will depend for the most part on what we Christians do in our concrete communities during the coming decades. It’s not enough what Pope Francis can do in the Vatican. Nor can we put our hope in a small group of priests who get ordained in the coming years. Our only hope is Jesus Christ.
We are the ones who have to center our Christian communities in the person of Jesus as the only force capable of regenerating our worn-out and routine faith. The only one capable of attracting today’s men and women. The only one capable of bringing to birth a new faith in these times of unbelief. The renovation of the Church’s central core is urgent. Reform decrees are necessary. But there’s nothing so decisive as returning radically to Jesus Christ.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf