The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2015. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
“I assure you, as often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me.” Matthew 25:40
The Lord says that you shall not “stand by idly when your neighbor’s life is at stake” (Lv 19:16). The Lord says: “I assure you, as often as you did or did not provide for the needs of the least of your brothers and sisters, you did or did not do it for Me” (see Mt 25:40, 45). The Lord expects us to recognize the Lazaruses at our doors (Lk 16:19ff) and “love in deed and in truth and not merely talk about it” (1 Jn 3:18). We are to see Jesus in the poor, love and serve the poor, and even be in solidarity with the poor.
This means that we must listen to the teachings of the Church. Pope John Paul II taught that we should “carry out a sincere review of [our] lives regarding [our] solidarity with the poor” (Mission of the Redeemer, 60). We must imitate Jesus and have a preferential love for the poor (Catechism, 2448). St. John Chrysostom insisted: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” St. Gregory the Great taught: “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice” (Catechism, 2446).
The Church through the centuries echoes: “Love the poor in Jesus; love Jesus in the poor.”
Prayer: Father, this Lent may I give alms to the extent that my lifestyle changes significantly. Promise: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Lv 19:18 Praise: St. Polycarp, a student of St. John the Evangelist for nearly sixteen years, was one of those early Christians honored by God to give his life in martyrdom for his King. (For related teaching, order our booklet, The Bible on Money.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from February 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 25, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements
The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2015, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you allow the love of God to rule in your heart? Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) said, “Essentially, there are two kinds of people, because there are two kinds of love. One is holy the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him.” Jesus came not only to fulfill the law (Leviticus 19), but to transform it through his unconditional love and mercy towards us. The Lord Jesus proved his love for us by offering up his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. His death brings freedom and life for us – freedom from fear, selfishness, and greed – and new abundant life in the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God’s love to purify your heart and transform your mind to think, act, and love others as Christ has taught through word and example?
The lesson of separating goats and sheep at the end of the day
Jesus’ description of the Son of Man, a Messianic title which points to the coming of God’s anointed Ruler and Judge over the earth (John 5:26-29, Daniel 7:13ff), and his parable about the separation of goats and sheep must have startled his audience. What does the separation of goats and sheep have to do with the Day of Judgement over the earth? In arid dry lands such as Palestine, 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.
Goats came to symbolize evil and the expression “scape-goat” become a common expression for someone bearing blame or guilt for others. (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual expulsion of a sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.) Jesus took our guilt and sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross. He payed the price to set us free from sin and death. Our choice is to either follow and obey him as Lord and Savior or to be our own master and go our separate way. We cannot remain neutral or indifferent to the command of Christ. If we do not repent of our sins and obey the Gospel we cannot be disciples and inherit his kingdom. Separation is inevitable because one way leads to sin, rebellion, and death and the other way leads to faith, hope, and love that lasts forever.
Love of God frees us from inordinate love of self
The parable of the goats and sheep has a similar endpoint with the parable of the rich man who refused to give any help to the poor man Lazarus who begged daily at the rich man’s doorstep (Luke 16:19-31). Although Lazarus lacked what he need, he nonetheless put his hope in God. The rich man was a lover of wealth rather than a lover of God and neighbor. When Lazarus died he was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom to receive his reward in heaven. When the rich man died his fortunes were reversed and he was cast into the unquenchable fires of hell to receive his just desserts. The parable emphasizes the great chasm and wall of separation between the former rich man held now bound as a poor and miserable prisoner in hell and Lazarus clothed in royal garments feasting at God’s banquet table in heaven.
The day of God’s judgment will disclose which kind of love we chose in this present life – a holy unselfish love directed to God and to the welfare of our neighbor or a disordered selfish love that put self above God and everyone else.
When Martin of Tours (316-397 AD), a young Roman soldier who had been reluctant to embrace the Christian faith, met a poor beggar on the road who had no clothes to warm himself in the freezing cold, Martin took pity on him. He immediately got off his horse and cut his cloak in two and then gave half to the stranger. That night Martin dreamt he saw a vision of Jesus in heaven robed in a torn cloak just like the one he gave away that day to the beggar. One of the angels next to Jesus 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” to be united with Jesus and the members of his body – the body of Christ on earth and the communion of angels and saints in heaven.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) wrote, “Christ is at once above and below – above in Himself, below in his people. Fear Christ above, and recognize him below. Here he is poor, with and in the poor; there he is rich, with and in God. Have Christ above bestowing his bounty; recognize him here in his need” (excerpt from Sermon 123, 44).
On the day of judgment Jesus will ask “whom did you love”?
When the Lord Jesus comes again as Judge and Ruler over all, he will ask each one of us face to face – did you love me and my Father in heaven above all else and did you love your neighbor as yourself? Let us entrust our lives into the hands of the merciful Savior who gave his life for us. And let us ask him to make our faith and courage strong, our trust and hope secure, and our love and compassion overflowing with joy.
“Lord Jesus, be the Master and Ruler of my life. May your love rule in my heart that I may only think, act, and speak with charity and good will for all.”