23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: September 6, 2020
We do not go to heaven alone. We go to heaven connected to the Lord and connected to many others. The goal of this life, therefore, is to become connected. You could say that this life is all about connecting to the Lord, the Living God, and connecting to our fellow human beings.
Connected together we are able to journey on the way to heaven. Often for us it is about re-connecting after we have broken the connections through divisions, fights, betrayals, gossip and so on.
Matthew’s Gospel reveals that in the early church there were disputes, arguments, people hurting one another. We heard about a process to try to bring reconciliation. Sometimes that is not possible if one is not willing to be reconciled or will not change a hurtful behaviour. But, we are called to make every effort to be reconciled with one another, to remain connected.
Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” We do not live our faith in an individualistic or independent way. We are called to be in communion, with God and one another. In a sense there are no individual Christians, only Christians in union with other Christians. The Catholic Faith by nature is communal.
It is the reason why we gather together for the Eucharist, this is not a private prayer, but a prayer in which we are in communion with Jesus and one another.
I experienced this communal dimension of our faith once while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We were staying in a hotel and on the Sabbath some Jewish persons wanted to offer their Sabbath prayers. But, they required ten people in order to do these prayers. A couple of us joined them. It reflected that our faith is communal. We are not in union with God all by ourselves in a private, individualistic way.
The Church is called to be an instrument of reconciliation, a Sacrament of unity. We are to help each other to be connected to the living God. We are to help humanity to overcome divisions, to be reconciled to one another. This is an important mission of the Church in our world today. Each of us, each of you is to be an instrument of reconciliation, to overcome divisions.
St. Paul gives that basic command, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” We do not go to heaven alone. Every act of love, every act of kindness, every act of mercy offered to another, adds a link to that connection that allows us to be raised up together. In fact, we are seeing ever more clearly that everything is connected in this universe.
This Covid Pandemic is showing us human beings that we need to be connected to one another and to all creation. The well being of the world, the well being of humanity requires that we do not live as individuals only caring for myself, but that we live connected to one another and to all creation.
Remain connected to God, remain connected to your fellow human beings, remain connected to creation. The mission of the Church is to be an instrument of reconciliation, leading to connection to God and our fellow human beings. Being a Catholic well requires that we do all we can to restore and strengthen our connections. For we do not go to Heaven alone.