The Gospel Today
Monday of the First Week of Lent
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who 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 drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘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?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
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.”
Gospel Reflection (Sem. Arnel A. Calata Jr.)
To be merciful is to behold the face of God in the least of our brethren. “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40).
We are in the first week of our Lenten observance and as part of Christ’s faithful, our Gospel reading for today is a reminder on how we must prepare ourselves in entering and celebrating the Paschal Mystery.
In this season, we are called to be more attuned to the Word of God in our lives – how we receive and respond to it. The words of Jesus today challenge us to be charitable not for the sake of recognition nor personal gain, but for the reason that we see Him present in our brothers and sisters who are really in need. In this way, we are being one with God by being channels of His mercy and compassion to our brethren.
We believe that the various acts of charity enumerated in today’s Gospel – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked and visiting the sick and the imprisoned – are but expressions of God’s mercy being revealed. These corporal works of mercy, as what the Church teaches us, are actions which spring or overflow from our own intimacy with Jesus and are manifested in our prayer life.
In this season of Lent, we are called to intensify our prayer so as to be more docile and generous in giving ourselves to such charitable works as how Jesus gave Himself to us – selflessly and lovingly. Our intimate union with Jesus in prayer has no other manifestation but in our external actions, especially on how we relate with our brothers and sisters. Thus, it is correct to say that whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Jesus.
As a community eagerly wanting to be one with Jesus in His paschal mystery, we are reminded that our service to our neighbor acquires supernatural value when we execute it with love for Christ. Thus, we must seek the face of God in rendering service to our brethren.