Examine your life!

Once again, going deeper into the topic of service, we visit and meditate upon the last Parable that Jesus gives us in the Gospel of Matthew— “The Parable of the Last Judgment”. The Shepherd will separate the goats from the sheep, the goats on the left and the sheep on the right, the damned and the saved. Our final judgment and eternal destination will depend on our love for God manifested by the love that we show towards our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus could not speak with greater clarity: “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, that you do to me.” (Mt 25:40) Examine your Principle and Foundation, and the key term in this meditation SERVICE related to the way you are living out the classical Corporal Works of Mercy. How do you fare? For Jesus, love and service are almost interchangeable! Examine your life!

1. “I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME TO EAT…” Have you fed the hungry at home, or outside your home, or any place where there has been an opportunity? Saint Mother Teresa, Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Alberto Hurtado, Saint John Bosco, Saint Joseph Cottolengo and countless other saints saw Jesus in the hungry. To live out Principle and Foundation on SERVICE how can you feed the hungry?

2. “I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME TO DRINK…”  From the cross Jesus cried out: “I thirst!” At the well, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman: “Give me to drink!” In the Parable of Dives and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), the rich man, Dives, failed to give the poor man, Lazarus, food and drink and consequently Dives suffered the loss of his soul. How can you live out Principle and Foundation and SERVICE by slaking the thirst of those around you? Inscribed above the altars on the walls of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, The Missionaries of Charity, are the words that Jesus uttered from the cross I THIRST!

3. I WAS NAKED AND YOU CLOTHED ME.  Naked can be interpreted as lacking or in need of something. Many lack dignity, respect, care, concern, compassion, someone to talk to, learning/education, doctrine/catechism, knowledge of the faith. And literally, there are people who lack proper food, clothing and housing. What is your response to the cry of Jesus in the poor of the world? How can you SERVE the naked? Remember the conversion of Saint Martin of Tours was triggered by a Roman soldier cutting and sharing his cape with a poor, half-naked and shivering man lying on the hard and cold ground! Pray over this: how can you alleviate the plight of the many naked of the world; this too is living out Principle and Foundation and our vocation or call to SERVE!!!

4. A FOREIGNER AND YOU WELCOMED ME. Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph were foreigners; they were exiles and immigrants. Many of us are immigrants or come from parents or relatives who were immigrants. Remember the Golden Rule and the call to live out Principle and Foundation in SERVICE— “Do to others what you want others to do to you!” (Mt 7:12) Jesus is present in these people: the lonely, the poor, the neglected, the forgotten, the ostracized, the insulted, the marginalized, the immigrant, the homeless, the misunderstood, the deaf and the mute… Remember the words of Jesus, our Lord, God and Savior: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to SERVE and to give his life in ransom for many.” (Mt 20-28) Remember: we will be judged on the way we treat and serve others in imitation of the Lord Jesus our model.

5. I WAS SICK AND YOU VISITED ME.   We all know from personal experience how difficult it truly is to suffer. We all know from experience how challenging and hard it is to be sick. Many of us know how hard it is to spend time, days or maybe weeks in a Hospital bed. But at the same time we all know how consoling, comforting, encouraging, and supportive it is when God has placed a Good Samaritan in our path to help us in our sickness. A kind word, a welcoming gesture, a warm smile, an extended hand, a handshake, a warm hug, a fervent prayer—all of these are gestures that can lift us from the valley of tears and darkness to the mountain-peak of hope. By caring for the sick we are living out Principle and Foundation in the realm of SERVICE! “To serve is to reign and to reign is to serve.

6. I WAS IN PRISON AND YOU CAME TO VISIT ME.  Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen on one occasion made a visit to a Prison. He had the opportunity to talk to close to 1000 inmates. He made this startling comment: “We are all prisoners in one way or another. The only difference between you prisoners and me is that you got caught and I did not!” What the saintly Archbishop was really saying is the fact that all of us are sinners, all of us are at times prisoners of our own moral slaveries. The fact that we are not incarcerated in some County Jail is the grace of God. Saint Philip Neri seeing a man lying in the gutters of Rome commented: “There go I save the grace of God.” We are all capable of the most heinous of crimes, commented Saint Therese, the Little Flower, if God’s grace did not sustain us, support us and protect us! Saint Therese also commented with great humility: “The only reason why I did not commit the most heinous of crimes was because God cleared the path for me.” Take a step back and look at your life, at your social milieu, at those people God has placed in your path, and beg for the grace to recognize those who are really in PRISON… Maybe you know somebody who is a slave to some vice: Drinking, Porn, Drugs, Gambling and Casinos, Compulsive buying. These are the modern prisoners; they are prisoners and slaves of their own passions, of their own sins. With respect to Principle and Foundation and once again SERVICE, what can you do to help these people? What can you do to set the captives free???

May Our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints help us to look into our lives and become aware of the many opportunities that God offers us to serve Him—in those we meet, those we live with, those we work with, those that we bump shoulders with. These people are really Jesus in disguise