"As much as I may not like what feels like an inherent legalism in this pericope -- and, truth be told, in much of Matthew -- when I get over this bias and read the passage carefully I realize that Matthew's deep concern in this passage and in so many other places is community -- honest-to-goodness, authentic Christian community. And the two things I've discovered time and again about community is 1) we all say we want it and 2) we usually have no idea how difficult it is to come by.
Community, after all, is one of those feel-good words that draw us into idealisms -- we imagine a place where you're accepted for who you are, where you're never lonely, and where, of course, everyone knows your name. But the really difficult thing about community is that it's made up of people! And people -- not you and me, of course, but most people -- can be difficult, challenging, selfish, and unreliable. Which means that usually when we're daydreaming about community we're often prompted to do so because we don't particularly like the people -- i.e., the community! -- we're currently a part of.....
To get even more succinct, I'd put it this way: Authentic community is hard to come by. It's work. But it's worth it. Because when you find it, it's like discovering a little bit of heaven on earth; that is, it's like experiencing the reality of God's communal fellowship and existence in your midst. And, as Jesus promises, when you gather in this way -- with honesty and integrity, even when it's hard -- amazing things can happen because Jesus is with you, right there, in your very midst, forming and being formed by your communal sharing."