Seeing Christ in Our Neighbors
Gospel Reading - Matthew 25:31-46
This reading is a summary of the entire Gospel message, which is one of love.
Love of God through the love of our fellow man.
Jesus is asked by a wily Pharisee lawyer which of God's commandments are the greatest (Mark 12:28-34). The answer Christ gives cannot be disputed, leaving the scribe astonished and in total agreement with the answer.
Christ proclaims there are two commandments, each equal in greatness:
“...The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Today's Gospel Reading combines these two equal and great commandments. We show our complete love of God, heart, soul, mind, and strength through the love we show for our neighbor.
Therefore, the love we show our neighbor proves our love for the Lord. And, inversely, if we ignore the needs of our neighbors, we ignore our love of God.
An ancient homily referred to as a document styled as the Second Epistle of Clement states:
"...fasting is better than than prayer, but almsgiving [better] than both [fasting and almsgiving]."
Remember that almsgiving is one of the Pillars of Lent, and that by taking care of the needs of our neighbors in need by providing food, drink, and clothing, we are doing the same for Christ who came into this world cloaked in poverty.
However, if we ignore the plight of our neighbor (even the most marginalized), we have ignored the needs of the Lord.