Lose the bonds of injustice
First Week of Lent- Monday
Reading: Matthew 25: 31 – 36
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory; escorted by the angels, and then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come you whom my Father has blessed, and take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.’ Then the virtuous will say in reply, “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me”. Next, he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome¸ naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
In this reflection, Jesus outlines very clearly the rewards of living gospel values. He promises the righteous a place at the right hand of God and eternal joy in the kingdom of His Father. ‘Come, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world’ Righteous living obliges the person to care for the poor, the sick, the needy, the downcast; the anawim of the kingdom of God. He expects us to reach out in love to the margins of society and care for those whom the world has abandoned. Failing to do so, rejects the person of Jesus today.
Our post- modern age offers us ample opportunity to care for the poor; the economic downturn has created a new strata of poor. Many people who previously lived a good quality of life have been forced to use food banks to provide basic meals for their families. Others have lost their homes or marriages have broken down under the strain of economic hardship. Global political unrest has forced many to seek asylum in far distant lands, often risking their very lives to reach a place of safety. Government legislation has obliged the receiving country to hold many innocent people in asylum centres while their circumstances and rights to protection are determined. So often, the institutional church is unable to effectively reach out to these people, but spirit filled people who are attuned to voice of God deep in their own hearts are effective, compassionate witnesses to the gospel as they campaign for the rights of the voiceless. Many innocent women and children are trafficked across the world today for sexual exploitation. Jesus expects his followers to do all in their power to break this vicious cycle of crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice. He wishes all his followers to live pure and chaste lives that give glory to God and not exploit the integrity and dignity of the person. We are reminded ‘that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.’ (1Corinthians 6:19-20) If we live good Christian lives, taking the words of (Micah 6:8) to heart ‘Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.’ we will like the sheep be placed on the right side of God.
Each day, you offer me new opportunities to serve you; to be sensitive to the many global concerns that diminish the dignity of your people. Having listened to the cry of the poor of today, help me to be a voice for the voiceless; Fill me with your spirit, that I may know what to do; give me the courage to do it, ‘so that I may lose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free’ (Isaiah 58:6)
I make this prayer in your most holy name, O most compassionate God. Amen.