Reaching Out - A Reflection on Matthew 25:31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In the confiteor — the prayer that we say during the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass — we confess that we have greatly sinned, not only in what we have done, but also in what we have failed to do. These sins of omission often exceed the sins of commission, perhaps because we don’t take much note of them, but as we see from today’s reading, that might have severe repercussions.
We are all saved by faith, but this has to be reflected in works. This is, by the way, something all Christians believe despite claims to the contrary. As James says, “What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:14-16).
I know that during Lent most of us give up a lot of things, but seriously, what purpose does it really serve unless it works for the good of others? This is why the church teaches us to keep the money we have saved, as a result of our fasting or abstaining from other things like alcohol, aside, and give it to the needy. This attitude helps us to look outwards, otherwise, it leads to the self-centered navel-gazing that is common to so many of us.
In the time since you started watching this reflection, about 60 people have died of starvation in the world. One in nine people go to bed without receiving the daily nutrition required. While one may not be able to do much to prevent deaths by accidents and natural calamities, there are many deaths that we can help prevent, and we need to do this because we will be held accountable. Recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
John says this: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18).
This ministry does a lot to bring a knowledge of Jesus and salvation to people. But it also looks after the less fortunate. In addition to directly reaching out to the poor and needy, it also supports charitable institutions like Hope for the Hopeless in Chennai run by the large-hearted Patti Peters and White Doves Ministry in Mangalore run by the equally compassionate Corrine Rasquinha. If you would like to help, do consider making a donation through this link: paypal.me/hsicharity.
This is the first time we have ever made such an appeal since these reflections began over a year ago and will probably be the last. We hope you will be generous.