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The king is poor!
On the way to the royal palace for an important discussion with the King about his succession, a nobleman met a beggar. The beggar was covered with rags, starving and pitiful. Moved by compassion, the noble man stopped to talk with the beggar even though he knew that he was late for the meeting. He gave him what he needed for food and clothing. Then he entered the palace. He was happy to notice that the King was also late. When the King finally arrived, the nobleman was surprised to realize that the King was the beggar he had met a few minutes before. He was shaken when the King chose him as his successor.
He hides himself in those in need
One interpretation of Matthew 25 suggests that the poor are a means for us to gain eternal life. No, the poor cannot be a means. They are human beings with the dignity of children of God. They are our brothers and sisters. They are sacrament in which Jesus Christ is present. Our Lord identifies himself with the poor and with the little ones so that we can meet him in these persons. He hides himself in those who need our attention. His throne is the very person of the other. The certain way to encounter God is to take care of the poor, his friends, and to help the wounded of life, his favorites. We are not merely sheep. We are also to be shepherds to others in need. We are shepherds in the manner of Jesus Christ, our great Shepherd. Jesus Christ gives himself to us in the form of bread so that we can share our bread with those in need.
He judges during the time of reading
Matthew 25 is also known as an account of the Last Judgement. Indeed, it is a question of the Last Judgement for the characters in the story, but not for us! How lucky we are! Each time we read this story, we become more conscious of the importance of our brothers and sisters in our relationship to God. We also know how to rectify our relationship to God. We are progressively guided on the right path of our authentic encounter with God. The judgement of the king in our parable is not for the future, not for the end of time. It is upon us now, at the time of our reading.
He entrusts his life to our care
From now on, eschatological time enters history and the end of time becomes the horizon of our present lives. Faced with the misery of others, Matthew 25 urges us to act without delay. Whatever we do for our brothers and sisters, we do for Jesus. Our love for the needy is the criterion which determines our love for him. Jesus entrusts his life to our care. He entrusts his life to us by identifying himself with the poor who, despite their condition, are created in God’s image. We can accomplish this mission only when we take care of the poor in whom God’s image is threatened.
We are invited to honor Jesus who is present in the other. No greater honor can we give our Savior-King than to serve him in one another. Our attention to each other is really an attention to Jesus Christ. It is a measure of how much we imitate his care for others. In our care for others here and now, Christ the King reigns.
Prayer: God of goodness, help us to recognize you in the poor and those in need.
Resolution: Take care of a person who needs material or spiritual help.