Living the Gospel – November 22, 2020

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Whenever I hear today’s Gospel, I squirm! It is basically the stepping stone to Eternal Life. We love and provide for our neighbor and in doing so, demonstrate our love for God.

How do we accomplish all that Jesus is asking of us in today’s reading? First of all, we don’t! One of my favorite songs is called “Step Out in Faith.” One line says “Take what I give to take.” This, I think, takes a good examination of conscience on our part. Just what has God given us in the way of talent, skills, financial resources, etc? If we weren’t given a gift, then we aren’t expected to use it! But if we have been given such a gift from God, we are very much expected to use it!

Those gifts could be financial – supporting the less fortunate with food, shelter, clothing. It could be as simple as donating our used clothing to a shelter or organization. Perhaps one could use skills to assist Habitat for Humanity. Or if we’ve been given the gift of compassion, we could visit the sick or imprisoned. Could you make dinner(s) for someone just home from the hospital? Shovel the sidewalk for an elderly person? Give respite to a young mother?

But maybe your situation truly does not allow for any of the above. Are we excused from the expectations of Our Lord?

St. Teresa of Kolkata said: “The greatest disease in our world today is not physical but the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for. The greatest evil in our world is the lack of love, total indifference toward our neighbor.”

I found a homily by Fr. Flor McCarthy. It is written in 3 parts as is our Gospel today—much too long for this reflection space, but I want to share Part 2. I’m sure you will “get the drift.”

And so the King turns to us: “I was hungry for a smile, and you smiled on me. I was hungry for a word of encouragement and you praised me. I was hungry for a word of appreciation and you thanked me.”

“I was thirsty for a word of recognition and you took notice of me. I was thirsty for a sign of friendship and you wrote me a letter.

I was thirsty for companionship and you stopped to chat.”

I was a stranger and you made me feel welcome. I was socially inferior to you, but by your acceptance, you built me up.

I was naked for want of self-worth and you covered me with esteem. I was stripped of self-confidence and you dressed me in the cloak of confidence.

I was sick with doubt and worry and with your cheerful attitude, you lightened my burden. I was wounded by failure and disappointment and by your supportive attitude, you healed me.

I was in a prison of loneliness and through your friendship, you released me. I was in the prison of guilt, and through your forgiveness, you broke the chains of my guilt.

I was homeless for want of tenderness and affection and you hugged me. I was homeless for want of sympathy and understanding and you listened to me.

Most of the time it is NOT the giving of things but of ourselves: our time, our energy, our love. “It is not the question of doing great things, but doing little things with great love, ” says St. Teresa.

By Linda Caminiti