Jesus said, "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." (Mt. 25:35-36)
I have a confession. I was not feeling the whole Lent thing this year. We are already into the first week of Lent, and I still had no clear idea of what I would do. I am trying to follow the three practices of praying, fasting, and almsgiving, but something was missing. I knew I could and wanted to do more to grow in my relationship with God this Lenten season.
The lightbulb came on as I contemplated yesterday's reading from Matthew's gospel. Service. That is what this reading said to my heart. That is what I will 'do' for Lent. Service to others is how I will grow in my relationship with the Lord during these 40 days leading up to Easter.
I will fast seeking my own selfish desires before tending to the needs of the people God places in my path.
I will pray for those who experience poverty in all forms.
I will give the gift of service to the hungry, imprisoned, naked, and strangers.
Fr. John Firpo, our parish pastor, spoke in his pre-lenten homily about the need for us to be on alert this lent. He spoke of opening our eyes to the needs of those people around us. I have been thinking about that, and how I need to be more alert to the many forms of poverty that exist in our midst, and how I can serve there.
There are so many people.....
who hunger and thirst...
They need to be listened to. They need to have a role to play in
society, to feel important, valued, and affirmed. They need to
know that they make a difference.
who are imprisoned...
They are imprisoned by their past, their reputation. They are
imprisoned by addiction. They are imprisoned by poor self
who are naked...
They are vulnerable and hurt.
who are strangers.
They are alone, and fearful. They long for human touch and
"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Jesus calls us to service. Our baptism calls us to service. By our baptism, we are called to imitate Jesus.
The least are, indeed, in our midst. We are compelled to serve them because of our baptism. Because it is the right thing to do. Because Jesus clearly calls us to serve. And because through our service to those around us, we grow.