“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me 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 nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Every time I hear this passage, I almost automatically review the last time a street person asked me for spare change” (or more) and the modest guilt I felt when I did not give anything, mainly out of concern for becoming a soft touch or the victim of a con. Was that what Jesus had in mind when he challenged us to see how we responded to him in the need of those we encounter more than passing them in the street?
How do I respond to Christ in need when my co-worker needs some of my time to listen or comfort him or her? How do I respond to Christ in need when I come face to face with injustice or intolerance? It seems increasingly acceptable for us Americans to give vent to our fears of people who are different from ourselves (different customs, language, values). Can I still find Christ in need? And how in the world do we respond to the millions of refugees who show us the face of Christ in need?
—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J. serves as assistant to the Jesuit superior at Colombiere Center, Clarkston, MI.
God our savior,
Bring us back to you.
Fill our minds and hearts with your wisdom
during this holy season of Lent. Amen.
—adapted from the Roman Sacramentary