Readings: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18, Ps. 19:8-10,15, Matthew 25:31-46

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

In today’s Gospel passage, we hear Jesus picture Judgement Day. There is only one criterion for entering paradise: kindness to the least person (the smallest, weakest, poorest, youngest, unimportant), the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the homeless, the sick, and the imprisoned. Jesus’ message re-echoes God’s warning to the children of Israel in today’s first reading: “You shall not defraud your neighbour; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind…. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great…” (Leviticus 19:13-15)..

We tend to show kindness to those we consider great while we ignore the weak. When a wealthy man steals, he would have an army of lawyers (senior advocates) to defend him in court. When a poor man steals, he may spend his entire life in prison awaiting trial. When the children of the rich are kidnapped, then we get to know the power of our security forces. When the children of the poor (the least in our society) are kidnapped, our security forces suddenly become incapacitated. In my community (or neighbourhood), how do I treat the least (weakest) persons? Let us now consider some lessons in today’s readings:

1. Wipe the Bloody Face of Jesus: In the sixth station of the cross, Christ speaks: “Can you be brave enough to wipe my bloody face? Where is your face? You may ask, and I will answer: At home, whenever eyes fill up with tears, at work when tensions rise, in the streets and remote places, wherever suffering exists, my face is there, and there I look for you to wipe away my blood and tears.”

2. Store Your Treasures in Heaven: We are kind to the rich and powerful because we hope to gain from them later. Humans are naturally ungrateful (Remember the ten lepers?) People never remember the good things you do for them; they only remember the pain you caused them. Jesus wants you to be kind to the weakest and the poorest because they can never repay you. This way, God would repay you. (Cf. Matthew 6:19-20)

3. Respect the Weakest: Jesus emphasised the “least” of my brethren. Respect to those who cannot defend themselves. For instance, the unborn babies, your workers (employees), service providers (cooks, labourers, etc.). God says: “The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.” How can you owe your workers their wages, and while lying to them that things are hard, you spend millions at nightclubs and spray dollars at your friends’ parties?

4. Don’t Be Surprised On Judgement Day: The irony in Jesus’ parable is that those who passed the test did not know they did. “Lord, when did we see you in these conditions and minister to you?” Those who would make heaven are naturally kind, people who help others without thinking of it or expecting anything in return. Unfortunately, such persons are not often churchgoers. They may have never heard the Gospel, yet they live it out daily. We may condemn them based on their external appearance, but we would be shocked on the Last Day.

5. Be Holy as God is Holy: Holiness is not necessarily sinless. Holiness means “set apart” or “different from others.” When God says we should be holy, He wants us to avoid worldliness. Do not steal. Do not take vengeance or bear grudges. Do not hate your fellow human being. Love your enemies. Are these too difficult to keep? Remember that practice makes perfect.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, open my eyes to see you in the face of the hungry, the sick, the naked, the oppressed, and the abandoned. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of the 1st week of Lent. Bible Study: Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18, Ps. 19:8-10,15, Matthew 25:31-46).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu