Jesus told us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Our religious life in founded on togetherness. When God took a good look at his first human he said, “It isn’t good for the human to be alone.”
In 270 A.D. St. Anthony locked himself away in an old fort beside the Red Sea. Searching for God, he subsisted on scraps of food the Bedouins threw over the wall to him. Then, after decades of solitary prayer Anthony’s reputation for holiness got out and spread.
Fifty years after his embarking on that solitary existence men and women hermits began taking up separate hermitages around Anthony’s fort. Then, one by one the hermits began recalling Jesus to have said, “In this will all men know that you are my disciples: that you have love for one another.” After that, they had begun clustering for a fuller Christian life. A monk named Pachomius wrote a rule for monks living in common, and his sister Marry did the same for women. That was the birth of monastery and convent life in our church.
Susan Sarandon in a recent movie explained that the main thing husbands and wives provided each other was a necessary audience for trivial talk.
Perhaps the most notable triumphs of togetherness in our lifetimes has been the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. The group provide members with the happiness that evaded them in their solitary drinking.
In 1964 our diocese in Korea got a young Irishman as its new bishop, and he pulled me in as his secretary. Socializing hadn’t been a big part of his Irish church upbringing, but orders from Rome had him attending weekly meetings with our city’s Protestant leaders. He’d come back from those meetings asking if there was anything to Protestantism other than Fellowship. Then, one day he returned, saying I would have to take his place at those gatherings. He said, “Sully, they’ve gone too far. They’ve made a verb out of it. Now we are “Fellowshipping.”