Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 / Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus talks about judgment
"I was hungry and you gave me food,"
"I was hungry and you gave me food,"
Mike Peters won the 1981 Pulitzer prize for political cartoons. Reporter Joe Urschel asked him, "How did you feel when you got the news?"
“I couldn’t believe it," said Mike.
"I didn’t even know I was in the running for it. It was like someone waking you and saying. ‘Get up, you just won the Boston Marathon.' And you say, 'But I wasn’t in that race.' And they say, “It doesn't matter, you won it anyway!” That's how the good folks in today's gospel felt when Jesus said to them, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom....
For I was hungry and you gave me food.” They said to Jesus, "Lord, when did we see you hungry?” And you know how the parable ends.
What are we doing for the Lord’s least? Lord, give me eyes to see you in the least of your brothers and sisters.
It is said that in order to be great, one must be humble. In order to succeed, one has to undergo failure. In order to be understood, one has first to understand. There seems to be a connection with opposites, even though opposites are understood as two realities or concepts in opposition. So, in an apparent opposition, there is some kind of common denomination.
So how about being human and being Christian? Are these two identities in opposition or is there something in common? Some may think that being a Christian means accepting and adhering to a higher moral standard. But if we look at the 1st reading, the precepts that are stated are not too lofty or too difficult to adhere to.
In fact, they are more like basic human values of honesty and integrity - "you must not stead or deal deceitfully with your neighbor; you must not exploit or rob your neighbor; you must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in a blind man's way"
If that seems to be like some kind of religious moral code, then in the gospel Jesus makes it clear what is fundamental in life (even regardless of religion) - feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison.
The season of Lent is a time for us to reflect on our frailty and weakness that has led us to sin. But it is also a time to discover our true human identity and our fundamental human responsibility and duty. Because in order to be a Christian, we have to be truly human, and to be like Jesus who became like us in all things except sin.
Monday of 1st Week of Lent - LITURGY
LOVE OF NEIGHBOR - ENCOUNTERING GOD IN PEOPLE
It is striking how the Bible insists, even in the Old Testament, that God is present where people love one another and do the works of mercy to one another. What we do to others is done to God. The Old Testament stressed love specially in regard to members of the chosen people, who were all to be considered as blood relatives, without excluding non-Jews. The New Testament extends this clearly not only to members of the people of God, but also to all people. The kingdom of God is present where people treat one another as brothers and sisters. Those belonging to the People of God have to bear witness to all that love exists and is alive, and therefore that God exists and is alive, by their love, particularly by their respect and concern for the weak and the fragile ones. It is by love of neighbor that we will be judged.
Lord, holy God, loving Father, you give us the task to love one another because you are holy and you have loved us before we could love you. Give us the ability to recognize your Son in our brothers and sisters far and near. Make us witnesses that love exists and is alive and that you, the God of love, exist and are alive now for ever.
We have no trouble understanding the validity of the norms set forth today in Leviticus. The sinfulness of stealing, swearing falsely, defrauding, or being dishonest is something of which we are well aware. They are basic norms of morality, important for any Hebrew to observe in his daily community dealings. Their applicability to our own lives is equally clear. However, the move to the Gospel teaching represents a quantum leap. This is not a question of harm done to anyone but is rather a question of doing good. This is the heart of the Christian ethic, as captured so well in the Sermon on the Mount. Is any person in need (whether a member of the Christian community or not) to be ignored? It is not a question of avoiding injury but rather of being present to anyone in need. This may mean food, clothing, or comfort. The word compassion means “to suffer with.” And it is on that subject that the final judgment dwells. The word today could not be clearer. Our personal lives, as well as the life of society itself, are kept at a high level if these norms of charity are observed. It is not that we neglect other teachings, it is just that we want to give Matthew 25 a high priority. The emphasis of Lent is on the importance of the “now.” Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Charity delayed is charity denied. “Lord help us to judge rightly.” Much of our moral life is centered on the Ten Commandments. We review them before reconciliation and our act of contrition. But today’s Gospel has pointed out our authentic calling. Behold these Christians, how they love on another. Give us the light to see.
Points to Ponder
Gospel and Primacy of the law of love
The human needs I see each day
– For the many hungry for food and human dignity, that those who have more may provide them with what they need, we pray: – For strangers and aliens, that we may accept them with all their differences, we pray:
-For the sick and for prisoners, people who are rarely visited, that we may show them our compassion and concern, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, loving Father, you let your Son share himself with us in these signs of bread and wine. Like him, and with his strength, may we share ourselves with our brothers and sisters and encounter your Son especially in the lonely and the fragile whom you place on our way. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Loving Father, we have encountered your Son Jesus Christ in this Eucharistic celebration. May he accompany us today, on the crossroads of the human city and help us to show your authentic face of a God who cares to those in search of life and love, that people may recognize that your kingdom has come among us. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
“What you do to the least of my brothers, you have done to me,” the Lord said to us today. This is a beautiful task, but it is difficult. May God bless you for it, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.