5th Sunday after Pentecost 19.6.16 Unity in Prayer
The teachings on charity, as contained in today’s Gospel (Mt 5,20-24), are demanding, but are not meant to be out of our reach.
Our Lord is raising the command on charity to a higher level. Now, not only do we do not kill our brother; we do not even call him a fool! Such is the level of unity and concord that Our Lord desires for us – especially for those who profess to be His disciples.
And even more so again for those who approach Him at the altar of sacrifice, as we do now.
He wants us to understand that the way we approach Him in prayer does have a bearing on the outcome. He wants us to be united with each other – in faith and charity.
When we come to Mass we are pooling our faith and charity, which should give more power to our prayers.
The more people praying the better; the more faith and charity the better.
Thus the instruction in today’s Gospel that we should be reconciled with each other before we offer the sacrifice.
We naturally pray for certain results: for people, for events, for the state of affairs in the Church and the world.
But we find that our prayer is not strong enough to move some of these mountains. Sometimes, of course, a prayer is not answered because it is not according to God's will.
But there must be times when prayer is not answered because it is not presented in sufficient faith, nor with sufficient unity among those praying.
God wants us to be absolutely one with each other as we approach Him.
When we pray we need to be on the same wavelength as God is. If we are filled with hate, resentment, unforgiveness and the like - and then we pray for peace - the prayer will fall short.
But if we are in tune with Him on those areas, there will be a communion of spirit, a oneness of heart and mind, and the prayer is more likely to be heard.
The requirement to be reconciled before we offer the sacrifice is difficult in practice, but we can at least be at one with everyone else present, in terms of what we desire.
As St Peter tells us in the epistle today: ‘… be ye all of one mind’.
We do not have to agree on everything, but on the main things we must agree – we have the mind of Christ, and we agree with Him (therefore, each other).
This unity of sentiment is something that should apply everywhere, but especially here at the altar, where we are so much in God’s presence.
Implied in every prayer is another prayer – Lord, make us one with Thee; free us from sin, and look favourably on our offering.
(May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands… means may He accept the congregation making the offering. It is beyond question that He will accept the offering of Christ, but the congregation is another matter.)
When prayers are not answered we are tempted to say that God is not doing anything, but the fault is more likely to be with us.
And that fault will include any disunity between us.
So we ask for forgiveness for all the sins in this area - for being selfish, closed to God's will, for putting our will ahead of His.
We ask for whatever intentions we bring to prayer, but also for the underlying things we need to pray more powerfully.
We ask that we can be a unified body, with Christ (His Body, in fact); full of charity, faith, and every virtue, all firing strongly.
May He hear our prayer as He makes us one.