MONDAY: Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Instruments of God’s love and Mercy
“The scratch my back culture” seems impervious to change. Individualism is its incubator. The poor and the needy are its chickens. Altruism is shrinking at an alarming rate. Selfishness is singing its dirges as if they were her songs of triumph over weakness and poverty. It collects and counts victims like coins. The minds and hearts of Christians distorted by insatiable greed have become its vineyard. Blindly they aid and abet its growth much to the corruption of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Beatitudes (Matt.5:6-8), inclusive of the sixth commandment. A lamentable situation for the Church in the world today.
Respect for the dignity of the poor is central to Christian spirituality. The story of Lazarus and Dives (Lk.16:19-31) as well as the Last Judgment (Matt.25:31-46) and Jesus’ own mission statement (Lk.4:18) placed strong emphasis on the need for Christian altruism, human transformation, and the imitation of the perfection of God (Mat.5:48). God always lifts up the lowly from the dust and feeds the starving with good things (1 Sam.2:8; Ps.107:9; 113:7; Lk.1:53), selflessly. He rescues the poor at no cost to them and with no strings attached (Is.55:1-2).
Christian courtesy is a reflection of God’s selfless love and service to humankind. Christ impoverished himself to enrich sinners and made them heirs with him of the kingdom and eternal life (2Cor.8:9). Thus, even in our relentless poverty, I mean spiritual deprivation, God and Christ are still unremitting in their efforts to draw us to the table of plenty (Matt.26:26-29). Repeatedly, God in Christ keeps enriching and feeding us entirely as his expense (Is.55:1-3). Thus, God expects us to return the courtesy we have received from him to bring consolation to those who are less fortunate than we are (2Cor.1:3-7).
Christians, in other words, are called to be empaths like God and like Christ. They must always readily stand in solidarity in the way expressed by St. Ambrose who said when we give to the poor we do not give them what is ours but we give them what God has entrusted us for them. In other words, Christians are the conduits of God and Christ through whom they channel grace and mercy throughout the world and in the Church. Thus, my friends a deeper knowledge of our identity in Christ, a deep conversion from individualism will certainly enable us to undermine the scratch my back culture and respect the dignity of those who are less fortunate than we are as Christ recommends in today’s gospel.
Lord, make me an instrument of your love and mercy.