Thursday, March 3, 2016

Day 18 of Lent: We Can Experience God in the Least of These

Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.
 Matthew 25:40

Christian compassion is grounded in the vision of divine-human partnership that radiates across the universe.  Our relationship to one another is manifested in thoughts, feelings, and actions and shapes the lives of other beings.  As we ponder the power of prayer, we can visualize our prayers as a force that enables others to be more attentive to the dream God has for their lives.  In many ways, prayer is a healing force that transforms others in new and creative ways.

The words of chapter 25 of Matthew shows the responsibility that humans have for each other.  Jesus tells the parable of the great judgment where people stand before the judge and are assigned their eternal fates based upon how they treated others during their lifetimes.  To those who are going to eternal joy, he tells them, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was a stranger and you welcome me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."  Those addressed asked when they had ever done that for the one speaking and the reply was our introductory verse above--"Just as you did it to one of the least of did it to me."

Do our actions really contribute something of value to God's own plan?  Do we offer something important when we reach out to others who are in need?  When we care enough to visit the sick, to write to those who are incarcerated in prison, to work at the food pantry or the soup kitchen, to send a card to those who are ill, to donate clothing to the place where the poor often shop, does it really make a difference in the world?

According to Jesus' teachings, it certainly does.  God understands us from inside out and knows the feelings we have.  Our feelings of empathy for others strike at the very center of the heart of God.  Our interdependence of life is felt by God as well as our neighbors when we work on their behalf.  We are called to contribute beauty, creativity, goodness, and compassion to God's world and all who live in it.

Think about these things:
I see God in the least of these.
I see God in particular people.
I do something beautiful for God as I live with others.

O God, whose heart beats in all hearts, who hears our prayers, delight in our joy, and may we truly give our lives to you.  May we do something beautiful for you and we care for one another.  Amen.  

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