OUR THEME FOR 2012 (Part 2): SERVING THE LEAST OF OUR BRETHREN

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

 

OUR THEME FOR 2012

(Part 2)

 

SERVING THE LEAST OF OUR BRETHREN

 

November 2, 2011

Today’s reading: Matthew 25:31-46

 

 

To choose life is to live life, defend life, and promote life. To promote life, among other things, is to do the work of re-evangelization and work with the poor.

In today’s reading Jesus teaches us about judgment at the end of time. In this instance, there is one criterion on whether we go to heaven or to hell, and that is what we do for the least of our brethren.

The contrast in judgment is stark.

 

Sheep

Goats

On Jesus’ right

On Jesus’ left

Come to me

Depart from me

Blessed by the Father

Accursed

Inherit the Kingdom

Into the eternal fire prepared for the devil

To eternal life

To eternal punishment

 

None of us of course would choose to be with the goats. But there are some who might be surprised at the last judgment. This is what happened to those grouped on the left.

What God expects of us is to serve the poor. When we do so, we serve Jesus himself. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40b). And if we do not, then we in effect have also rejected Jesus. “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” (Mt 25:45).

Who are the poor? There are the materially poor and the spiritually poor.

The materially poor are those who do not have enough to eat, those who have no standing in society, those who have inadequate clothing, those who are sick and those who are in prison. We are called to care for them. We are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, and visit those in prison. These are the so-called corporal works of mercy.

 

At the same time, we are also to look at spiritual poverty and help address that. This is through our work of re-evangelization and then providing continuing pastoral support in community.

Who are the spiritually poor, of whom there are many even among so-called Christians?

* The hungry. Those who do not partake of the Eucharist and the word of God.

* The thirsty. Those whose lives are parched and do not drink of the Spirit.

* The stranger. Those who are not in the community of God’s people and do not experience the fellowship of the brethren.

* The naked. Those who are not clothed in righteousness or not properly attired for the Master’s feast.

* The ill. Those who do not experience the fullness of a bountiful spiritual life or have not experienced the healing touch of the Great Physician.

* Those in prison. Those in bondage to the world, the flesh and the devil.

 

In fact, spiritual poverty is even more dire than material poverty. One may not have the things of the world, but if one has an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, then one is truly rich. On the other hand, one may have everything he wants of the material life, and then more, but if he loses his soul, then that would be the greatest tragedy.

We choose life. Thus we evangelize and do our work with the poor. As such, may we bring many more people to Christ for them to experience the fullness of life in him, both materially and spiritually. In doing so, at the final judgment, may we not be among those who “will go off to eternal punishment” but among “the righteous to eternal life.” (Mt 25:46).

 

*     *     *