Monday of the 1st Week of Lent
The Judgment of the Nations
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the “saint of the gutters” was moved to abandon a comfortable life in order to serve the poorest of the poor of India. What inspired her was the Parable of the Last Judgment (today’s gospel): “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat… naked and you clothe me… Enter into the kingdom of Heaven.”
She said: “If I follow the Lord’s words then I will enter His kingdom.”
Today’s Gospel gives us a casual picture of what will happen on the Day of Judgment. But I wonder why this gospel passage is placed at the beginning of Lenten season. I’m sure this is because the Church wants to offer us a positive stimulus to personal conversion and amendment. The Church reminds us too that the Lord Himself will certainly return as a Supreme Judge and this is not a remote possibility. We will be judged individually based fundamentally on the standard of real love in the form of works of mercy. That is, the “sheep” will inherit eternal life because they respond to real needs before them while the “goats” will inherit damnation because they fail to respond to those same needs.
On the Day of Judgment separation is inevitable. The Day of Judgment will reveal those who have shown true compassion and mercy toward their neighbor. God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done but also for what we have failed to do. That is why Jesus teaches us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for them.
I read this story of a minister who one night, he went over to the church to lock it up for the night. He found a boy asleep in the last pew. He woke the boy apologetically, and told him he was going to lock up. The boy explained that he had no place to stay that night and was hoping to remain in the church. The minister said that he hoped the boy would understand, but he didn’t think that was a good idea.
The minister then invited the boy into the church office while he called two refuge centers in town, trying to find a place for the boy to stay. Unfortunately, neither center had a vacancy that night. The minister apologized to the boy. The boy said he understood, shook hands with the minister, and disappeared into the night.
When the minister returned home, he sat down in an easy chair. He picked up his Bible, opened it and began to read the assigned section for the day. It was the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Suddenly the minister realized that the boy he turned away was like the wounded man in that parable. The minister saw, also, that he was like the priest in the parable. He had passed up the boy without helping him.
What motivates us to do something good for the other person? It is the face of Christ in the other that motivates us to do good towards him/her. We need to see Christ in the other person; move us to responsibility and compassion. The face of Christ in other moves us to serve the less fortunate, the unlovable and those undeserving of our help. The face of Christ inspires us even to trust those who are not trustworthy. Only in this manner that we never get tired of doing good to the other.
The challenge for all Christians is not just to read or listen to God’s Word, as Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD had emphasized, but take it to heart and most importantly, put it into practice, something which the minister in the above story failed to do.