In the summer of 2020, gatherings look differently than they used to.
Car parades instead of graduation ceremonies, virtual birthday parties, work meetings via Zoom: for the last few months we’ve been gathering together in totally new ways. For me, it’s been hard. I mourn the cancellation of my long-awaited friends’ weekend at the coast, and as of this writing, I still haven’t been able to attend Mass in person.
But at the same time, gatherings haven’t stopped; they’ve simply changed.
The last few months have opened our eyes to all the ways we can gather. Dance lessons and Scout meetings and family reunions can happen on Zoom. You can see your friends online, even if you each have to bring your own cocktail. Even less tech-savvy types (like me) are now empowered in ways I never anticipated.
These last few months have also opened our eyes as to why we gather. We gather to celebrate and to laugh. We gather to renew connections and to build community. We also—increasingly—gather to challenge social injustice and racism. And all of that gathering is holy.
Jesus certainly knew the power of gathering. As He said in today's Gospel, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). He knew the power of eating dinner with a sinner, the power of a diverse crowd coming together with a common goal.
Consciously or unconsciously, we know it too. The desire to gather is an essential one, and although the pandemic may seem to have denied us that opportunity, in a strange way it hasn’t.
The last few months have changed us. We’re more aware now of how precious it is to gather. We have new tools for coming together that we didn’t have before. We’ve seen firsthand how gatherings can hearten the individual, build a community, and—in the best Gospel tradition—make a more loving and just world.