FIRST WEEK OF LENT YEAR C.
MEMORIAL OF SAINTS PERPETUAL AND FELICITY, Martyrs.
LEVITICUS 19: 1 – 2, 11 – 18
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. “You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 19: 8 – 10, 15 (R.) John 6: 63c.
R/. Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the Lord is perfect;
it revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
they give wisdom to the simple. R/.
The precepts of the Lord are right;
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes. R/.
The fear of the Lord is pure, abiding for ever.
The judgements of the Lord are true;
they are, all of them, just R/.
May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer! R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL
2nd Corinthians 6: 2b.
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
MATTHEW 25: 31 – 46
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of 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, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, 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, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ “Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
REFLECTION: Serving Christ in Others
March 7, 2022
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Who is that “least brother?” It’s interesting that Jesus specifically points to the person considered the least, as opposed to a more general statement that includes all people. Why not say, “Whatever you do to others…?” This would include all whom we serve. But instead Jesus pointed to the least brother. Perhaps this should be seen, especially, as the most sinful person, the weakest, the most gravely ill, the incapacitated, the hungry and the homeless, and all those who have pronounced needs in this life.
The most beautiful and touching part about this statement is that Jesus identifies Himself with the person in need, the “least” of all. By serving those in special need, we are serving Jesus. But for Him to be able to say that, He has to be intimately united with these people. And by showing such an intimate connection to them, Jesus reveals their infinite dignity as persons.
This is such an important point to grasp! In fact, this has been a central theme in the constant teachings of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. An invitation to constant focus upon the dignity and value of the person must be the central message we take from this passage.
Reflect, today, upon the dignity of each and every person. Try to call to mind anyone you may fail to look at with perfect respect. Who is it you look down upon and roll your eyes at? Who is it you judge or disdain? It is within this person, more than any other, that Jesus waits for you. He waits to meet you and to have you love Him in the weak and the sinner. Reflect upon their dignity. Identify the person who fits this description the most in your life and commit yourself to love and serve them. For in them you will love and serve our Lord.
Dear Lord, I do understand and believe that You are present, in hidden form, in the weakest of the weak, the poorest of the poor and in the sinner in our midst. Help me to diligently seek You out in each and every person I encounter, especially those in most need. As I find You, may I love You and serve You with my whole heart. Jesus, I trust in You.