“’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’…Amen I say to you as long as you did it for one of the least, you did it for me.” Matthew 25, 31-46 Readings
Jesus was tempted to be a messiah of another kind, a messiah marked by ” power, success, and dominion and not by the total gift on the Cross, not by the messianism of gift and selfless love.” (Benedict XVI)
You don’t need to be hungry, thirsty, or sick; you don’t have to die. You can be above all that, Satan said to him. You can have all the kingdoms of this world. You can be a privileged religious leader who tells God what to do. One who receives instead of gives.
“Away with you, Satan,” Jesus says and he leaves the Jordan Valley, not for Jerusalem, center of religious and political power, but for Galilee to give to those who “live in darkness and the shadow of death.”, to those described in today’s gospe as “the least:” the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, the prisoner. Jesus identifies with them.
“You shall love your neighbor as youself,” Moses teaches in today’s first reading.
We must follow him. How? The readings this week tell us–by prayer. “When did we see you?…” they say. Prayer might seem like a way of blinding ourselves to others, but remember how much prayer was a part of Mother Teresa’s ministry to the poor. She saw in “the least” “Christ in disguise.” She saw because she was a woman of prayer that gave her eyes to see. Duk Soon Fwang in her painting of the saint befow has tears from her eyes giving life to an abandoned child.
There’s a grace in this season for seeing the least this way. Let’s ask for it
Lord Jesus Christ, may I see you in my neighbor, especially those “in disguise.” those in need who may seem unlike you.
May I love you in my neighbors, and find you in the least of them. Amen.