From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
In our gospel this week, Jesus addresses that ultimate question – what separates those who go to heaven from those who don’t? His message is clear and perhaps not quite what some would expect. It is about how we care for others that matters most. His call to us though is deeper than simply a call to charity toward others. Equally important to the service we offer is the attitude and passion that we come to that service with. “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” It is Christ Himself we serve every time we serve the vulnerable. We are reminded earlier in Matthew that “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” He taught his disciples to do the same; not to rule over others, but to be their servants. Jesus calls us to have an attitude of humility, not setting ourselves above others. We offer service as to a brother. We are reminded in the first reading to have a passion not just to serve, but to rescue, to find the lost, to bind up the injured, and to heal the sick. We are to treat those we encounter as our brother Christ himself – with honor, with trust and with love.
In our reading from Ezekiel, God has become displeased with the way the leaders of the Israelite’s have misled and abandoned them, allowing them to become vulnerable and abused. God steps in! “Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep…I will rescue them from every place…I will give them rest. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.” He has a preferential option for the poor and He will see to it that they are cared for. Likewise, he will see to it that those who do not care for the poor and vulnerable will be judged and destroyed. It is a message of hope for those who are in despair. It is also a message to each of us to seek out and care for those most vulnerable among us. We are to use our gifts to care for those who are less fortunate. Failure to do so will be at our own peril. At the time of judgment each of us will have to answer “what did I do for the least of my brothers and sisters?”
As Vincentians, we seek holiness to bring us closer to God. The readings today speak to the very core of our mission. We are called in total humility to minister to all those Christ brings before us. We are called to do more than provide charity – we are called to enter into relationship and friendship. We are called to embrace their sufferings as our sufferings, welcoming them into our lives as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to see Christ Himself – someone to be honored, trusted and served. Doing so makes us imitators of Christ, following what he taught us. Do I reach out in charity only when it is convenient, or in every instance God places before me? Am I aware of those who are hurting around me, offering to them the presence of Christ? Do I offer charity or relationship and friendship? Do I see Christ standing before me?
Father, grace me with the gift of awareness, that I may recognize when someone is in need. Help me to never pass an opportunity to be your presence to another, even when it is inconvenient. Let me serve in humility recognizing with thanksgiving that all I have comes from you that I might freely share my gifts with others. Help me to embrace others as your very presence before me in humility, trust and service. Let me never hesitate to answer the knock on the door, that I may never miss seeing and serving you. I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen