Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus
No one ever said that the Christian walk was an easy one. In fact, many of the great disciples, from St. Paul to Mother Teresa, have reminded us that choosing to follow Jesus can be a difficult path. Thankfully, Holy Scripture gives us a roadmap, plenty of do’s and don’ts to help us navigate our way toward our Savior. Today’s first reading from Leviticus gives us some of the don’ts. “You shall not steal. You shall not lie or speak falsely to one another. You shall not swear falsely by my name.” This looks pretty straightforward. Most of us don’t literally steal, lie or swear by Him. But what if we remember that everything we have is from Jesus? Are we using the gifts He has loaned us for His glory? If we have extra money and we believe that this is a provision from Him, isn’t squandering it on (insert your luxury of choice) a theft? If we have a skill or talent, and we use our free time watching reality TV, aren’t we stealing that gift from Him? How often do we say, “I swear to God?” Popular reality starlets proudly proclaim “Bible” instead of “I swear.” It doesn’t seem like much but asking for the clarity to see even the small ways we offend the Lord can draw us closer to Him.
In His mercy, God also gives us suggestions of do’s in today’s Gospel from Matthew. They are not ways to earn His freely given love and grace, but ways that help us become more like Him, and become one with Him. “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.” Jesus is pretty clear here. Saying “I believe in you” a few times in your life or going to Mass each Sunday aren’t all that He asks of us. We must resist the secular pull toward egocentrism, even self-centeredness. Richard Sterns writes in his book, The Hole in our Gospel, that today’s Christian might re-read that passage from Matthew 25. It could say
For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.