“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Although this is the final verse we read today, to me it summarizes the principle message behind today’s Gospel. This verse was first shared with me while I was in college participating in an event run by FOCUS, a Catholic group on campus. The missionary at the time opened the event in prayer and quoted this verse to emphasize the significance of the 20 of us meeting together to grow in our faith. We often feel the necessity to internalize our spiritual lives in today’s world, but today’s Gospel proves that the exact opposite stands to be true.
Strength in Numbers
If today we were to be in physical fight or battle, we would typically want as many people there to fight alongside us. Yet, in fights and battles of the spiritual nature we typically feel the need to fight alone. There are many twisted reasons on why we are drawn to individuality when spiritually fighting, but the main one is the devil. The devil knows the reality of the fight. He knows that he is easily beaten when we fight alongside one another against him. For him, a key strategy to get us to fall into desolation and despair is to make us feel as alone as possible in our struggles. I first learned about the reality of the strength in numbers while in college. I was challenged to open about my struggles and fears to other men, which at the time I thought I would be shunned for. Thankfully the exact opposite happened. They showed mercy, compassion, and even opened up about their struggles against the same sins. It was liberating to know I wasn’t “odd” for my struggles and that just about every other person either was or had fought the same battle as me. It allowed them to both love better and hold me to a higher standard of life. The main point I am making here is that we, as Chirstians, need to be united with one another. Not just in the joys and victories, but in the struggles and battles. This is how we can win the fight that we all so ardently desire to win.
Banding Together Through Prayer
The idea of group prayer is not that we all meet up on a Tuesday night and take turns praying over one another. Although there is great power in verbally praying with others, today I want to focus on offering prayers for each other. Over the past few years there have been a few situations in my life that have felt quite overwhelming. The trials and fears of these situations came to a point where I felt like my singular daily prayer no longer sufficed. It was then that I decided to invite close friends into prayer with me. Again, I’m not talking about them coming over and praying with me. Rather, I asked them to offer prayers or sacrifices for my intentions. I truly believe God desired me to walk alongside these men through these situations because a great amount of weight was lifted off my shoulders after I requested their offerings. Think of it as a petition that a whole town may sign to bring about change in their area. Likewise, when we join in group prayer our petition to the Lord is loud.
I will admit the idea of opening up to others can be truly frightening. Unfortunately, there is no way to truly overcome this fear except through actively trying. I was someone who was very afraid of opening myself up and this was the strategy I used. I chose a small group of men that I trusted the most in my life. Then I slowly opening up about small things until I worked up the courage to share the big things. There is no quick solution to being great at opening up, but we can look to scripture once more for further motivation to join our brothers and sisters in battle.
Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
And as we open our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we also open our hearts more to God and allow him to be more present with us.