Whenever you did this, you were doing it to me!


It is interesting that, so soon after Ash Wednesday, the Church reminds us through the liturgy that Christ will come as our Judge. Those who have lived a virtuous life will go to one side, and those who have freely chosen not to do so, will be cast aside. It is frightening even to think about it!
Christ gives us some guidelines as to how we will be judged. Much centers on our kindnesses to others, our role in the Corporal Works of Mercy. Christ reminds us that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned, that we are doing those actions for Him.

Jesus’ description of Judgement Day is quite startling. It turns out that those who are judged to have acted rightly in this life didn’t even realize they were doing so. The righteous acted not out of a sense of reward but because they were responding to immediate need—to the sick and the hungry. They acted only with ‘the other’ in mind.

The second startling point is that Jesus says, ‘Whenever you did this, you were doing it to me.’ Jesus didn’t say that they were acting justly on his behalf or because the poor are like Jesus. Jesus said that they were him. Jesus is always stretching our understanding of justice and mercy and this parable stretches us to take a closer look at ourselves and our attitude to those most vulnerable and in immediate need.

As we set up our plans for Lent, we should look again at our role in helping others. Surely, visiting a friend might take on much more significance than “giving up a cookie.” All of us have to think it through for ourselves. We also recall that being a Christian is our role EVERY day — not just for Lent!

There may be an opportunity for each of us in our day, to look at how we are doing justice today, to all our neighbors. We may also be able to ask “how am I sharing God’s love today?” This focus may help us to love God more deeply and follow God’s ways more closely. May we seek Christ today in all our encounters and love Christ as we find the Presence there.


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