Now in this interim period, while Christ reigns until he has put all his enemies under his feet, we are allotted the time to fulfill the commandment of the king to serve the least of his sisters and brothers. As John Chrystostom pointed out long ago, we do not hear “I was sick and you healed me” or “I was in prison and you liberated me.” What is being asked for here are very simple, everyday things, that don’t require a lot of special skills, resources, or even special grace. Yet, we know that in practice they can actually be quite difficult in the sense that we have to ready to put aside our plans and be willing to be placed in situations or engage with persons we may find unpleasant or difficult. It was precisely sensitivity to these small tasks that made Therese a saint. This Gospel reminds us that our time on this earth is limited and what we do with it matters.
Performing these services is no small thing in the building up of the kingdom. Providing food and drink for the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison: all of these participate in the fulfillment of the prophecy of what God said he will do for his people in the First Reading: the Lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal. Through the gift of the Spirit, we are his actors. In this Eucharist, we receive our Lord whom we serve in our brothers and sisters.
Photograph by Brother Brian. Meditation by Father Timothy.