Today we come to the grand finale of the marriage and family week in the diocese....
According to sociologists, the family is the single most important unit in the society. Every other institution depends on the family. If families fail, this also has adverse effect on the society at large.
The Church is also interested in the family because without the family there is no Church. The church depends on the family for vocations, for ministries, for volunteer work etc.
When, however, you look at what is happening in the world and the various policies and programs being implemented by different governments, you begin to really wonder if they are concerned for the family.
For instance, in most countries contraceptives, abortion, same-sex marriages, euthanasia are being promoted. These are all subjects that have been proven without doubt to be anti-family.
All these, together with other socio-political issues are putting a lot of pressures on families. The Church is aware of all this and today she wants to support all families experiencing various kinds of problems by reminding them that God has not and will not abandon them.
When you look at the gospel reading today, you will agree with me that it is full of prescriptions that will help families live out their callings. But I want us to concentrate our reflection on the verse which says, “Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them”.
In the Jewish culture from which our Lord came, people considered a person’s name to be more than a simple label to identify that person. They believed that something of the person’s identity was tied up in the name. They believed that the name expressed something of the person’s essential character.
As is obvious from this verse, they also assumed that a name—at least some names—possessed something of the power of the one who had that name.
Therefore, when Jesus says, “in my name,” he is talking about people who would identify themselves with him and would gather together under his authority.
The Rabbis also believed that, when two men gathered to study the Torah, the glory of God was present with them. And so, when Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst,” he uses this familiar saying to identify himself with God and to assume Godly prerogatives.
When a man and a woman decide to get married in the Church, what they are simply doing is to identify themselves with the name of God, and they ask God to be with them every step along their way as a family. This invitation lasts through their lifetime, with or without children.
As we all know, God is a God that keeps his covenants with his people. If we have invited him into our families, we have to be rest assured that he will always be there for us.
This message that God is still with us is what the Evangelist Matthew is trying to communicate to us today.
In the beginning of his Gospel, Matthew began by saying, “They shall call his name Immanuel; which is interpreted as ‘God is with us'”.
At its ending, the Gospel of Matthew will conclude with Jesus’ promise to be with us always.
Now, in the centre of this Gospel, the part we have listened to today, Jesus promises to be with every group that gathers in his name—even groups with only two or three members. Thus, Jesus ends this section with a note of blessing rather than judgment.
What, then, do we need to do to gain this blessing? Simple. Continue to do what Tobias and Sarah did in the first reading.
Incidentally, this is the topic of our marriage and family week. We all need to be men and women of prayer. The situation facing Sarah in the first reading seemed insurmountable, but when she prayed with Tobias, it all disappeared.
Parents, grandparents, children and everyone gathered here today, God has equipped us with this unique weapon called prayer. We have to make use of it not only when we come to Church, but also when we wake up, when we work, when we eat, before we sleep and in the face of difficulties.