Posted by: RAM | February 22, 2015

Monday (February 23): “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Passion of Our Lord

St. Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr (Memorial)
Monday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 23

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalms 19:8-10, 15:  Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by 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,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
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,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/022315.cfm

Reflection:  What kind of future are you preparing for? What about the life to come after our death? God puts in the heart of every living person the desire for unending life and happiness – but a life of unending happiness can only be fulfilled in him. While death claims each of us at the appointed time, God gives us something which physical death cannot touch – his own divine life (2 Peter 1:3-4) and the sustaining power of his Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-11). We can either accept or reject the offer which God makes to us in Christ Jesus the Lord. The Day of the Lord will reveal what kind of life we have chosen for the age to come – a life of peace and joy with God or a life of misery and separation apart from God.

Jesus’ parable of the separation of goats and sheep invites his audience to consider their lives in view of the age to come (Matthew 25:31-46). What happens when you put sheep and goats together? Jesus’ audience readily understood the need for separating the two. In arid lands, like Israel, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. At nightfall, when the shepherd brought the sheep and goats to their place of rest, he separated them into two groups. Goats by temperament are aggressive, domineering, restless, and territorial. They butt heads with their horns whenever they think someone is intruding on their space.

What’s the point of this story for us? The kind of life we choose to live now and the moral choices we make will have consequences that determine our future – for better or for worse. Separation is an inevitable consequence of judgement. The Day of Judgement will reveal who had true faith in God and who lived according to God’s command to love him first above all else and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, with true compassion and mercy (see Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18). Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are not called to flee the society around us nor to disdain those who treat us unfavorably or unfairly. We are to be leaven in a society that needs God’s healing love and forgiveness. When we let our light shine we allow others to see God’s love, truth, and compassion in the way we speak and treat them. God has shown us his incredible mercy and loving-kindness through his Son, Jesus Christ, who came to save us from the tyranny of sin and Satan, and a world blinded by vanity and deception. We are ambassadors for Christ and our mission is to bring his light, truth, and merciful love to those who stumble in darkness, ignorance, and unbelief.

As much as we might like to judge the parables, the parables, nonetheless, judge us by pointing out the consequences of the choices we make and the kind of life we choose to follow. Jesus teaches us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for others. God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done but also for what we have failed to do. Now is the time of God’s mercy, for seeking his help and grace to turn away from sin, and to walk in his way of love. We can love freely, generously, and unconditionally because God has already poured his love into our hearts through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Ask the Holy Spirit to purify your heart that you may love as God loves and live charitably with all.

This parable is similar to the parable about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man let Lazarus die on his doorstep and was doomed to crave for drops of cold water he had not thought of giving to the poor man. When Martin of Tours (316-397 AD), a young Roman soldier and seeker of the Christian faith, met an unclothed man begging for alms in the freezing cold, he stopped and cut his coat in two and gave half to the stranger. That night he dreamt he saw the heavenly court with Jesus robed in a torn cloak. One of the angels present asked, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?” Jesus replied, “My servant Martin gave it to me.” Martin’s disciple and biographer Sulpicius Severus states that as a consequence of this vision “Martin flew to be baptized.” God is gracious and merciful; his love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness. When we do something for one of Christ’s little ones, we do it for Christ. Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love as Christ has treated you?

The scriptures present us with the choice between two kingdoms – the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. The choice is ours. Which kingdom do you serve? God’s kingdom lasts forever because it is built on the foundation of God’s love and justice. To accept Jesus as Lord and King is to enter a kingdom that will last forever where righteousness, love, truth, and peace dwell. Is your life submitted to the Lordship of Jesus?

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are my Lord and King and there is no other. May your love rule in my heart that I may think and act with charity towards all.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/feb23.htm  http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. Polycarp (d. 156)

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey), disciple of St. John the Apostle and friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch was a revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century.

St. Ignatius, on his way to Rome to be martyred, visited Polycarp at Smyrna, and later at Troas wrote him a personal letter. The Asia Minor Churches recognized Polycarp’s leadership by choosing him as a representative to discuss with Pope Anicetus the date of the Easter celebration in Rome—a major controversy in the early Church.

Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has been preserved, the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi in Macedonia.

At 86, Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the saint’s body burned. The “Acts” of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He died in 156. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1300&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day:

 Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. @Pontifex RAM

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