Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of the world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
A Lenten Reflection
Today’s Gospel makes clear to us that reflecting on our need for conversion must include how we act toward others. The criteria for being a good person always begins with whether or not we are treating one another well. And the question does not end with merely whether or not we do it. It also asks who we include.
Jesus uses the image of divine final judgment to introduce a jolting truth about what it means to love God. Speaking to an audience convinced that those who were socially unacceptable were also unacceptable to God, Jesus equated love of such persons with love of God. To be in right relationship with God, we must participate in his unconditional and redemptive love as it seeks to restore the wholeness of his creation. This lesson continues to need to be learned today. Our place is not to divide, but to heal.
Felix Adler wrote, “To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.” Morality is about living our responsibility for the all, especially as it calls us to reach for those who have been forced outside of the all. Lent is a time not only for contrition for how we may have neglected doing this, but also for becoming persons for whom such neglect will never again be an option.
Eternal Father, you created us in your image of compassion and mercy. Forgive us in those times when we have acted without loving. Soften our hearts and help us to turn away from our sinfulness and return ourselves to the work of building your Kingdom of mercy and justice. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.