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Jesus, Where Are You Today?
Monday of the First Week of Lent
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 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.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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 no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Opening Prayer: My Lord, you invite me today to reflect on the end of my days and to prepare for the end of time. Enlighten me so that your words can fall on fertile ground in my heart. I believe in you; strengthen my faith in your loving guidance.
- How to Draw Near: I want to encounter God. How can I do that? This is the key challenge to which every religion has sought a response. By means of certain rituals, by diligent spiritual activities, by moral behavior, or by select knowledge, the human efforts to ensure an encounter with God are countless. And they usually bear a nugget of truth in them. However, if we are honest, we must admit that we cannot do anything to ensure an encounter with the transcendent God on our own accord. It is he who has to take the initiative and come to our encounter. No ritual will ever ensnare God, no meditation will ever conjure his apparition, no merit will buy his friendship, and no insight will gain power over him. The first step to an encounter with God is his to make.
- God Reaches Out: In effect, the Almighty has always made that first step to encounter us. Throughout the history of salvation, God revealed himself to humanity and so allowed for a religious response that is more than petty attempts to breach an infinite gap. As a response to his revelation, rituals have meaning, prayers have an addressee, morality has a heart, and reason is enlightened by faith. Yes, we can encounter God, thanks to his initiative. Liturgy, prayer, good deeds, and contemplation are genuine ways to encounter him.
- Another Way to Encounter God: In addition to prayer, liturgy, and deeds, today’s Gospel introduces another way to reach God. By depicting the scene of the Last Judgment, Jesus quite clearly and even shockingly declares that a privileged way of encountering him is by encountering our neighbor—above all, the smallest and poorest among them. We want to encounter God. This is why we pray and meditate and attend the liturgy—and rightly so. Today, Jesus reminds us that he also waits for us in the many people around us that could use our help.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord, unite my heart with your heart at this moment. Allow me to look at my day through your eyes. I want to see what you see. In whom are you waiting for me today? In the needy person that waits at my doorstep? In the sad friend that waits for my call? In the angry family member that waits for my apology or for my forgiveness? Jesus, show me where you are today, so I can come encounter you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will intentionally look for you in one of my neighbors.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 2447: The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.
written by Fr. Gabriel von Wendt, LC