I just got back from a Holy Hour at my parish that also involved some time for Lectio Divina on yesterday’s Gospel, which is where Jesus was talking about separating the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. He says that the sheep, or the righteous, will inherit eternal life because they took care of the least of their brothers and in doing so, they took care of Jesus.
In our sharing of what stood out to us from spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and encountering Him in the Word, we talked about recognizing the dignity of others when we show mercy towards them.
Which leads me to today’s readings for preparation.
I am made in God’s image. My human dignity comes from the very fact that I am made in His image. And I know that’s important in the way that we view others because my fellow brothers and sisters in humanity also are made in His image. And as such, I owe them respect. Love. Not just any love, but love as a gift of self in a self-sacrificial way. Feeding the hungry. Sheltering the homeless. Visiting the imprisoned. Healing the sick. And so on.
Being both body and soul, my body has, in Pope St. John Paul II’s words, the “power to express love.” I can use my body to offer my self in love for others by serving and taking care of them. By doing so, I, in a sense, am taking care of Jesus.
Yesterday, I visited my nursing home residents again. Even though I serve in the role of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and offer them the Eucharist, Jesus Himself, I can’t help but behold their own faces. I behold their faces because as I see them consume the Eucharist, it becomes incredibly real to me that I’m no longer looking at Annette, Vicky, Joe, Carlton, and Diane’s faces. Rather, truly I’m looking at the face of Jesus! Through their reception of the Eucharist, they become one flesh with our Lord so for me to look at their face is really me looking at Jesus. Kind of blows my mind away, now that I think about it.
And what blessed opportunity that is! I want to blog more on this, but I oftentimes don’t feel like going to visit my residents to bring the Eucharist to them. It takes a lot of effort, sacrifice, and dying of self for me to go. But! O the consolations I receive for actually choosing to go! What a gift it is to see their brightened faces when I visit them!
And they’re grateful because I’ve offered my self as a gift to spend that time with them. To bring them Jesus. To pray with them. Whenever I’m done visiting with them, I’m often filled with a better sense of who I am as a person and how I’m called to love and serve others. Which brings to mind the words of Pope St. John Paul II when he says
Man cannot “fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.” (Gen. Aud., January 16, 1980)
Looking to Mary as a prime example of the gift of self, I shall turn my thoughts, desires, needs, preferences, pleasures towards the gift of self rather than towards myself. This is an area I very much struggle with.
Mother Teresa feeding child // Whole World Women