Qualities of relationship

This reflection was given during the daily Eucharist in the chapel of an Anglican convent.  The Scripture it references is Matthew 5:20-26.

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

It’s a difficult teaching, this one, and I suspect honoured much more in the breach than in the observance.  If all Christian people really did seek to be reconciled with their brothers and sisters before coming to the altar, our parishes would be much healthier places.

But it struck me, as I was considering this, that we tend to read it very much on an individual level.  I must be reconciled before I come before God.  But we never come to God’s altar just as an individual; we gather here always in community.  We must be reconciled to one another before we come to God.

It struck me that there’s something about who we are when we gather here that is more than the sum of its parts.  We don’t just each of us offer our individual selves, but we offer our community, with its relational qualities and its synergies, as a living sacrifice.

No wonder reconciliation is so important; we wouldn’t want to offer to God a fractured, disordered or agitated body.

Now of course, I wouldn’t dare comment on whether that’s ever true here.  I’m a guest in your life and you’re best placed to reflect on that yourselves.

But I’d encourage you to consider that the quality of our relationships is part of what we bring with us, when we come before God, and to consider whether they need any attention in your own life.


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