Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent Reflection: Little Acts of Love

In case you missed the announcement on Ash Wednesday, the YASC volunteers have come together to share their own mediations. Every day for the season of Lent, one of us will reflect on the readings by sharing our insights and experiences. Please check out the blog!

Monday, March 10 was my first day for reflecting. Here it is in case you missed it on the YASC Lenten Blog.

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" 
-Matthew 25:37-40

In this passage of Matthew, God asks, “Did you give me food or water? Did you welcome me or give me clothing? Did you visit me when I was sick or in prison?”

So I sit here asking myself, ok, have I fed or given water to someone when I saw they were hungry or thirsty? Ok yes, there have been a number of times I’ve helped prepare food for a food bank or served food to the hungry. Check.

Did I welcome a stranger and clothe them? Well, I’ve donated used clothes to coat drives and other organizations. I’ll put a check there.

Have I visited someone when they were sick or in prison? I’ve celebrated Eucharist with inmates at the Richmond City Jail and I’ve visited elders in nursing homes. Ok, that’s another check.

All right, five for five! 

But is that really what God is doing? Checking a box every time we give someone food or water or clothing or visit them in time of illness or incarceration?

Because then we can, also, ask ourselves, is it a one-time thing and then I get a get-out-of-jail-free card? How do I know that one time it was Jesus who I was feeding or clothing or welcoming or visiting? What if I gave food to that person, but then walked by another with their hand out on the street? Do they cancel each other out?

Is that how God wants us to live our lives? Counting the number of times we’ve done something good?

Of course we can’t feed every single person we pass on the street. What God is asking us in these passages is to think beyond ourselves. Being a Christian is about living day to day in the service of our Lord. We are to look outward onto a suffering world and ask how can I help? How can I best serve the least of these with the gifts God has given me?

Not one person can save the world. Not one person can feed all those who are hungry or clothe all those who are naked. Not one person can visit all who are sick or in prison. But if each one of us did one small thing every month, every week or even every day we’d all be doing one for the least of these. We’d all be doing one for our Lord Jesus Christ. We’d be feeding, clothing, welcoming, and visiting everyone.

As Jesus says in John 12:32, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” All men as one, he says. As we Episcopalians proclaim every week, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” And in the words of Bishop Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, “Jesus’ words make plain God’s deep desire and dream for us, God’s plan and mission: to draw all people, to invite, to welcome, to include all within the embrace of the arms that were stretched out ‘on the hard wood of the cross.’”[1]

In Leviticus 19:18, God asks, no, commands us that we shall love our neighbors as ourselves. Through simple acts of kindness we can love one another. We can feed one another. We can clothe one another. We can welcome the least of these. We can welcome all.

The season of Lent is about reflecting on our relationship with God and ourselves. It’s about pausing and remembering our love for Jesus. In addition, take time to pause and remember your love for your neighbor, for those around you. As Jesus says in this lesson, “what you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” As you love one of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you love Jesus. Amen.

Thanks for reading!

[1] Michael B. Curry, Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2013), 91.

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