From a Creighton Student's Perspective
March 14, 2011
Senior, Communications Major,
Business Administration Minor
In both today’s First Reading and the Gospel, we encounter the law of the Lord and what it means for our lives. In the former, God gives his law to the Israelites through Moses by teaching them how to live justly with one’s neighbor. The admonitions against robbery, lying, and hatred all make up obvious beginnings to following God’s law in order for the Israelites to have the fair and peaceful society that he wants for them.
In the Gospel, however, Jesus shows us the full extent of what it means to abide by his law. Although I had read or heard the parable of the sheep and the goats numerous times beforehand, when I read the Gospel this time, I was struck by the way it builds on what was said in Leviticus. No longer is following the law of God in negatives, about not doing things (not stealing, not lying, not having hatred), it was about the positives, specifically, what have we done for God’s little ones: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked?
I remember being in 7th grade when I first truly reflected on today’s Gospel passage. I realized how stern of a command it was, and I remember specifically being afraid that throughout my life I myself might forget the needy and consequently be condemned for it. As I have gotten older, this Gospel does not scare me as it once did because I see it as a call to love and not to condemnation. God does not operate on fear: he doesn’t want us to care for the needy because he has scared us into it; he wants us to do it to show that we love him by loving them.
Still, it is a passage that challenges us: do we care for the poor as we ought? Are we doing enough individually and as a society both 1) to provide charity and 2) to work for justice for those in want? Of course, Blessed Mother Teresa, the Angel of the Slums, once mentioned that the greatest poverty is loneliness. In this light, perhaps our whole understanding of who the poor are should be challenged? In addition to providing for the needs of those in physical want, do we work to bring aid to those in mental, emotional, or spiritual need? If this is the case (and I believe it is), I am convinced that the poor are not some far off concept away from our own comfortable homes, careers, and lifestyles: instead, the poor, those in need, are all around us: our classmates, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family members.
If we do follow the words of Jesus, if we let his positive law of love reign in our actions toward the poor, we will have life as today’s psalmist said. If we can, let us set aside some time in prayer today so that we can examine ourselves in how we can better answer Jesus’ call to serve those in need.
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