The teachings of Our Lord, God and savior Jesus Christ are often quite difficult for us. In fact, it cannot be any other way since God is speaking to man. God is attempting to raise man from his earthly nature which makes him similar to the beasts, and He is trying to raise him to the level and stature which alone is God’s. We do not take lightly the idea that God desires to call us “sons and daughters.”
As the Church prepares us for the coming of the great and holy challenge, we are indeed challenged by the words of Christ. Sometimes this makes us uncomfortable. Why is God always challenging us? Why does God expect so much from us? Really, if we think about it, we should really be troubled if God didn’t challenge us and didn’t expect so much from us! In man made religion everything is geared towards the pleasure of those who are at the top. But in our Christian faith, everything presupposes that the one who is at the top is ready to become the least of all, even to die for all. As our Lord says “He who desires to become the greatest, must be the servant of all” and He also says “True love is to give ones life for his friends.”
In today’s gospel reading our lord challenges us, challenges every fiber of our being in fact. The challenge is how do we respond to those who are marginalized and struggling in our society? How do we respond to those who have dire needs? There are people in the world (and in our own communities) who are hungry, who are thirsty, who are strangers, who are naked, who are sick and who are in prison. No matter which of these situations we see others facing, we know that the person who is going through these afflictions is in need of help from somewhere. We are expecting help to come from God but my dear friends, God is expecting help to come from us!
It is not that helping others is just a nice thing to do, it is the rule by which each of us will be measured. It is true that the Lord is challenging us, but in His divine mercy He is also preparing us and warning us about the coming judgment and He is giving us a roadmap to His kingdom. The privilege of being a child of God is to do what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for all of humanity. He made the fallen state of humanity His burden. And by making us His burden, He entered into our struggles. In fact our Lord became all of these that are here mentioned. Our Lord was hungry and thirsty when He fasted. He was a stranger when He travelled from place to place. He was in prison on the night in which He was betrayed, or rather gave Himself up for the life of the world. He was naked and sick when He hung upon the tree of the cross and according to Isaiah the prophet “we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted” (Is 53:4). So God understands what it is to suffer and to be associated with the downcast and downtrodden in society, and He wants us to also understand and to spring into action.
But He goes even further, He multiplies the blessing of serving the poor and the struggling. He tells us that when we do this we are not simply serving those who are struggling, we are in fact serving the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! What a Lord and Master we serve! He bows low to identify with the least of our brethren and then raises our service so that it will be counted as service to Him, the King of glory! So what more can the Son of God do to convince us to serve others? Let us go out of our way to help others during the coming season of Great Lent. You may be surprised to find that when you disconnect from the computers and televisions, there are many people who can use your help, right in your community.
Let us try hard to bring the love and mercy of God to them and there can be no doubt that God will see our love and mercy and will multiply this much, much more in our lives, both here and at the great and awesome judgement. Glory be to God forever AMEN.