Monday, March 2, 2020

Gospel Reflection 03.02.20: Care of the less fortunate [Matthew 25:31-46]

' “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.”'
Matthew 25:31-46

As we go on with our busy lives, we don't often think of the mishaps of others. I am reminded of a conversation I had in the last year when someone had commented that our growing homeless population is the worst in the U.S. than any other country.  We choose to live in a bubble, ignorant and blind to the plight of other people, and what's more other countries.  Now I'm not going to get political as that is not my purpose in bringing up this conversation.

Instead let us look at ourselves.  Let us not look at what we don't have but be grateful for what we do have, then look at what we can give.  Rather than comparing ourselves to those who appear to have more and covet their lives, see how someone else with less than you lives.  As we know, Lent is not only a time of fasting, but also almsgiving.  We are called to be charitable everyday, but it is even more celebrated during the Lenten season, the time of penance, prayer and renewal.

As far as judgement, could you really blame our Lord?  We as Christians are called to be generous (2 Cor 9).  We all know that one person who always takes and never gives.  There is that one friend or relative that you know can afford it but never offers to take or even split the bill.  We've all been in that one relationship (romantic or platonic) that it always felt like the other person kept taking without giving, whether in time or effort.  As generous as our hearts can be, they can sometimes grow weary when the effort is not reciprocated until one day we don't feel like giving anymore.

As it says in Galatians 6:7, For a person will reap only what he sows.  How can we expect our eternal reward when we provide nothing to others in this life?  Our Lord says it Himself, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.  It is not only about what we do for God, but how we see and do for others.  When we put in the effort to see our Lord in all people, we see how we should love them.  Jesus' mission was about how we should show love to one another, regardless of status in society.  That status is human and worldly, not a heavenly one.