In a secret prayer read by the priest at the beginning of the Liturgy during one of the short litanies it says, using the words of St John Chrysostom, that if two or three agree together in all things, the grace, the power and the presence of God will be in their midst.
What is it then, what are the words that are so decisive in this prayer? I think it is not that two or three may agree from time to time, when they have a common interest, the same feelings, but that they are prepared to be in agreement, that is in harmony in all things, making the concerns of one the concerns of all; considering the sins of each one as being their own responsibility and not only the responsibility of those who sin; because if we were a true Christian community, how much support, how much help would every member of it receive in the struggle for integrity and life! So it is agreement, harmony in all things that is the precondition of the presence of God with power and grace, with exulting joy and love.
Already in his own time St Paul said: “Alas, there are divisions among you.” And these divisions destroy the unity which could be the place where God can act. We must reflect on this very attentively because we cannot naturally, spontaneously love everyone; we find it very difficult to understand one another; we find it very difficult to bear one another’s burdens, to endure each other; we find it almost impossible to consider the sins of one or another person as our own. And yet, if we respond to the shortcomings, the sins, indeed the evil there may be in someone by rejecting that person, we find ourselves separated from God, because God does not reject any one of us. God became one of us at the cost of His incarnation, at the price He paid for the love of us; not of the righteous ones— did He not say “It is only the sick who need a physician, not those who are whole”? He came to share with that very sinner, with that unbearable person whom we reject, with the very people we are at variance; He came to share not only our common humanity, but their destiny, their agony, their struggles. It is not in vain that Isaiah speaking prophetically of Christ says that the weight of the sin of the whole world was upon Him.
Let us reflect on this, because if we want to become what we are not— a Christian community, a community of people who love one another earnestly, if necessary sacrificially, whose love is prepared to go as far as crucifixion, then we must learn a great deal about our attitudes to each other. How can we contemplate the vision of the Cross if we are not prepared to carry one another’s burdens, to identify in sympathy and compassion with each other? How can we face the fact that God in His love gave His life for the lost, while we reject those for whom He died, ignore them, would like to rule them out of our life because it would be so easy to live only with those people who are no problem for us? By doing this we become alien to God, not by any action of anyone around us, but by our own free choice because we cannot accept those for whom Christ lived and died.
Let us reflect on this, let us conquer every thing in us that prevents us from being at one with God, and through this unity with God let us accept one another even if it be at the cost of our lives. Amen.