We are entering a pre-Lenten time in which the Church gets us ready for the spiritual experience that should come in the Great Fast. Today’s Gospel call us to prepare for this day. It is the acknowledgement of Christ’s Presence in this world; we must see Him in our fellow man, and once we see Him, there, minister and love Him. How slow we have been to learn this lesson! How stubbornly we refuse to see Christ in the outcast around us.
But our Lord is crystal clear in His account. He says the nations of the world shall be gathered before His throne for the judgement. He shall divide them into 2 groups. The King will say to those on His RIGHT, “Come, you blessed of my Father, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you…For I was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a stranger, in prison…and you cared for Me and helped Me.” The righteous were surprised and said: “Lord, when did we see YOU hungry, thirsty, sick…and helped You?” And the Lord shall answer: ”...inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto ME.”
Then Christ went on to tell what happens to those on His LEFT. “Depart from me you cursed…For I was hungry, thirsty naked, sick, in prison…and you did not help me.” The group protests, saying they had never seen Christ in such need, for surely if they had seen Him they would have been more than willing to come to His aid. But the answer is: “Inasmuch as you did it not to the least of these My brethren, you did it not unto Me.”
What a gauge we have here, for our evaluation as followers of Jesus. How quickly we can find out how high we score on Christ’s scale of service and love. Yes, these two great commandments go together: “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart and all thy soul and with all thy mind…AND thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
“God is love,” St. John proclaims. And it is only as we love that we serve Him. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples,” Christ said, “If you have love for one another.”