Jesus said to his disciples: “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’”
As a Catholic Christian I do not believe in “faith alone”; that is, I do not believe that I will inherit eternal life because I have said that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior. Instead, what I believe as a Catholic Christian is that Jesus Christ is my only Savior and the only Savior of the human race and I, as a Christian, have been called to breathe and live Christ’s words in my words and in my decisions. That is the only plausible explanation from today’s Gospel passage.
Don’t kid yourself. Stop fooling yourself. The Lord has called us to serve Him and our neighbor unconditionally, honestly, humanly, and lovingly. There is no easy way out of it. Don’t even try to be nice if you aren’t willing to be nice! I know. I recently learned a great lesson regarding this.
A few weeks ago, a mom brought in her children to speak to me. I have known this family for a long time now and I have always felt very comfortable being around them. Well, the mom was a little concerned about her children’s recent behavioral issues and asked if I could speak to them individually to see how they were doing. I had some time and so I agreed. When the last child finished speaking to me, I noticed a gift basket I had received for Christmas. It was unused and still wrapped in its original paper. I immediately thought to myself, “This would make a nice little gift to give to this family.” Well, the child was a little reluctant to take it. I told him, “No, please. I want your mom and family to have it. You guys deserve it.” “But father…” the boy insisted. I said, “No buts…it’s on me.” The child reluctantly accepted my “generous” gift and brought it over to his mother. I was not at all surprised by her reaction. She looked shocked! She said to me, “What’s this?” Smiling, I said, “It’s a little gift for you and your family.” She said, “I can’t believe you are giving us this basket?” I shook my head and I said with a humble voice, “You and your family deserve it.” She said to me, “What I am saying is that I cannot believe you are giving us back the basket we gave you for Christmas!!!”
I don’t think I have ever been this embarrassed in all my life! I deserved every bit of it!!!
Why doesn’t everybody help? Why don’t more people get involved and help strangers or relatives? The answer is simple: It doesn’t make any sense to. There are a thousand great reasons not to help and only one great reason to help. As a priest, our greatest temptation is to keep our doors closed. How often do you hear something like this, “Why should I get involved in other people’s problems? It will only return to haunt me!” And you know what? It’s true! How true that is! If a poor person came knocking on your door, would you help them? I ask because every time I help one poor person, it seems as though that poor person tells all the poor people they know and all of a sudden they are all knocking on the parish door with the most bizarre and convoluted stories I have ever heard!
As I said above, there is only one great reason why anyone should help another? Out of love for God and neighbor. The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” He then proceeded to give the people the great laws of love.
Why should I help? To be holy. What does it mean to be holy? To love God and neighbor. How must I do it? Honestly, lovingly, humanly and unconditionally. Not embarrassingly.