“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.”
In the above scripture passage we are reading what the Catholic Church calls 'The Corporal Works of Mercy.' Corporal meaning corpus in Latin, cuerpo en Espanol ;) or body in English. These are the works that we are called to do each day of our lives. They call us out of ourselves and into a suffering, needy world. As I reflect on these words of our Lord, I am convicted that I have not kept these commands at all times. I am also reminded that I too was once a recipient of these merciful acts.
I grew up with a single mother who raised me and my older sister. We didn't have much but we had each other. I was reminded of our economical challenges every time my mom pulled out the food stamps at the grocery store. We didn't have money for a car so we walked everywhere or took the city bus. I also remember us going to the local Catholic Church for food and clothes every month. I remember losing our home and having to stay in homeless shelters on skid row, in cars over night, or at friend's homes for a week or two. It was a difficult time for all of us. I share this not so that you may feel sorry for me. I share it because I am thankful for the love that was shown to me throughout those difficult years. If it wasn't for the people who lived out Matthew 25:41 in word and in deed, I couldn't have survived my childhood and I wouldn’t be here writing this to you today.
It can be so easy to forget how precious we are to each other. How much we NEED each other to survive. In my case, I needed material things like food and shelter. There are some of us that need a listening ear, a soft pat on the back or arm, a smile, a looking into of the eyes. We need food and shelter, but more than that we need to be KNOWN. Especially as woman, we need to be seen! Why do you think we dress up everyday and do our hair and makeup? We want to know we mean something to someone and we get that with attention. Our lives are meant to be lived for each other. You have a gift to give. It's called Presence. The world is aching for your time and presence. Will you be generous with your gifts? Will you take the time to look up from you cell phone or the TV and give someone you undivided attention? Will you go and spend time with the elderly? With the mentally ill? With the imprisoned? With the homeless? They need you. Jesus needs you to be his hands, feet, heart, ears, mind, and voice. May you take this scripture to heart and live out his mercy this Lent. Remeber, talk is cheap. Reading this reflection is good, but what would be better is doing something with it to change the world around you.
Shalom my Beautiful sister.