Monday, 6 March 2017

Lent Week 1 Monday

Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Ps 18/19; Matthew 25:31-46


To this famous scene of the last judgement, of the separation of sheep and goats, one could ask: what human being is there who has not at some point helped another? and what human being is there who has not at some point failed to help another? So the important teaching here is not a moralistic one and we must take something else from it. What we must take from it is its teaching about Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters: in serving one another we are serving him.

The Lenten triangle of prayer-almsgiving-fasting is at the service of the Christian triangle of God-others-self: this is the network of relationships in which we live our lives if we try to live them according to the great commandment of loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Who is the needy one? The answer from this gospel is very clear as it lists the basic needs of humanity and the works of mercy that attend to those needs. But the experience of a community such as l'Arche, for example, obliges us to think again about 'ability' and 'disability', about 'need' and 'strength'. There we learn about the ability of the disabled (for love, honesty, trust, for example) and the disability of the able-bodied (concerning love, honesty, trust, for example).

So the question of who is the least of Christ's brothers and sisters is re-opened. It seems that the answer is: everybody at some time or in some way. In caring for anybody who needs care we are caring for Christ. Sometimes care needed requires corporal works of mercy, looking after physical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Sometimes it is spiritual works of mercy that are required: encouragement, accompaniment, forgiveness, listening. Along the way of love taught us by Christ we discover our own neediness and our own strength.

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