Today Meditation: Matthew 25:31-46
Saint Polycarp. Bishop and MartyrLord, when did we see you? (Matthew 25:37)
Imagine a young woman who is being courted by a young man. He’s always telling her that he loves her. He takes her out to dinner and gives her flowers. But he doesn’t make much of an effort to get to know her. He never tries to comfort her when she is troubled or help her when she is sick. Then one day, he asks her to marry him. Should he be surprised that she turns him down?
We could compare this young man to the “goats” in today’s Gospel reading. They don’t understand why Jesus won’t let them into heaven. Perhaps they had professed their love for Jesus while on earth, but they didn’t show that love. It seems they failed to recognize him in the hungry, the displaced, and the marginalized.
Jesus doesn’t want to turn us away. But he does ask us to show him that we love him—and not with our words but with our actions. Catholic activist Dorothy Day once said, “True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace… . There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one. We are one flesh, in the Mystical Body, as man and woman are said to be one flesh in marriage. With such a love one would see all things new; we would begin to see people as they really are, as God sees them.”
Seeing “all things new.” That’s the promise of life in Christ. It’s what happens when we try to imitate Jesus in our dealings with people. As we take steps to care for people who are different from us, we begin to see everything in a new light. The old categories of “us” and “them” dissolve. People we have long dismissed as enemies or inferior or alien lose their labels. We see them only as brothers and sisters, all equally loved by God and all equally deserving of dignity and support. That’s when we begin to love them—and to love the Lord.
“Jesus, I don’t want to miss you! Let me see you in those I meet today, familiar or unfamiliar, pleasant or unpleasant. May I recognize all of them as my brothers and sisters.”
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalm 19:8-10, 15