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Serving with Joy
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: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I believe that you have humbled yourself to be truly present to me. I hope in your presence. Help me to know you, love you, and serve you.
- We Are a Penitential People: It is interesting that the Church uses purple for Advent and Lent. The color purple signifies we understand that “these times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)” (CCC 1438). But Advent and Lent are not preparing us to merely celebrate the historical events of Christ’s life. They are calling us to anticipate the second coming of Christ. We know that judgment awaits us one day, and a humble, repentant heart is a good preparation for when the Son of Man comes in glory.
- Jesus Didn’t Come to Save “Good” People: How often we hear people say, “I’m good.” As Christians, we know that we are called not to be merely good but righteous. Righteousness springs from a deep love of God. We identify as sons and daughters of God; we strive to love God with our whole heart, mind, and body; and we allow his grace to overflow into our love of others through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We are called to see “those on his left” and be Christ’s emissaries to them, according to his promptings in our soul. Who is it that the Lord is asking us to serve this Lent?
- Mission-Oriented: To feed the hungry, clothe the naked—this is our baptismal call. Our Lenten focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving gives us fresh opportunities for grace in order to live out our mission. What is interesting is how God makes the work we do for him so enjoyable. Service to the poor and outcast can be very difficult and often very draining. However, so many who do this work testify that they receive much more than they give. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Christ came so that “our joy may be complete. When we walk closely with him in the service of our brothers and sisters, we experience a deep, lasting joy. “We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim his work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).
Conversation with Christ: Loving and amazing Lord, I thank you for this gift of Lent. Thank you for the opportunity to continuously repent and draw closer to you. Help me as I go through my day to be mindful of you and help me to see you in all those I encounter this week. Help me to show joy in the midst of my penance, knowing how much you love me and are calling me personally and intimately to walk with you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will intentionally write down the moments I encountered you and reflect on them.
For Further Reflection: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy (St. Francis).
Bob Cohn and his wife Jeanette live in Maryland and have spent the last thirty-five years raising seven children, working in their parish, and singing together. He is an electrical engineer with a manufacturing firm, and he loves to share his faith through speaking and writing.