Oh, the Gospel for today, from Matthew 25:31-45, is a treasure, isn't it? This oft-quoted passage in particular, which is used to fuel many a social justice mission.
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.’
The words above are used to justify all manner of things, but I think that if we distill all the rhetoric away and see it for what it really says, we hear this... Thank you.
God says - thank you. What we also might hear are words justifying social action - which is appropriate. In any case, that is part of what we hear - thank you. You took care of one another and as a result you took care of me.
However, we can hear more, if we listen. Even if we are feeding all the poor people in the world (confession - I am *not* doing that) we still need to hear this Gospel and feel challenged by it.
Grayson Warren Brown offer his reflections after the Gospel. (Grayson is at St. Edward's from Sunday through Tuesday for a parish mission/retreat, but I had to go out of town on Saturday, right after mass. I'm sorry to miss this event.)
In any event, Grayson spoke of the power of Christianity and how we are to care for one another. He spoke of us being ambassadors for Christ and what that meant. To care for one another.
So simple. So difficult. Right?
Then we hear this as today's Gospel continues...
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.’
If we do not see Jesus in every face of sorrow and suffering, if we do not see Jesus in every face of despair, if we do not see Jesus in every face of every person who annoys, irritates and upsets us... If we do not see Jesus in the face of every person that we capriciously judge, then we do not see Jesus at all.
This kind of stinks because I am easily annoyed and highly judgmental. I see Jesus all over the place and then brush him off. I hate writing that but it is true.
Don't we all?
Recently I got in a bit of a comment war over at Elizabeth Scalia's blog, The Anchoress. Why do I let these petty things get stuck in my craw? I am so judgmental.
I know that Jesus is present in Elizabeth's voice and in the voice of her commenters, but honestly, at the time that I am in it, I have the hardest time knowing the deep truth of that. And for them, Jesus is in me. Maybe they can see that more easily than I can in reverse, who knows.
So that's simply one of my moments of not feeding Jesus and in fact, I in some way probably took food right off of his very plate. However, we are ever invited to begin anew, each moment. Today I am reminded of the awesome power of that and how to care for the very least. It won't be easy, but if we do this together in Christ's name, maybe we can do it.