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Monday, First Week of Lent

February 14, 2005

Blessed Feast of Sts. Cyril & Methodius! (look for their story in a neighboring post)

Readings:
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18 (various rules against deception, injustice and revenge)
Psalm 19: 8-15 “Your words Lord, are spirit and life”
+Matthew 25:31-46 (separating the righteous from the unrighteous at the Last Judgment)

The story of Methodius’ painting ties in nicely with today’s Gospel, in which Jesus describes the Final Judgment. Since our Lenten retreat is intended to give us an eternal perspective, God lets us in on eternal priorities by describing the standards by which we will all be judged. He’s a Teacher, telling us what will be on the Final exam–except we’re living the Final exam now. He’s giving us a chance to change our answers so they agree with His. That’s why our psalm has such high praises for God’s law (it refreshes the soul…gives wisdom to the simple…rejoices the heart…it’s more desirable than gold…sweeter also than honey”).

Here is the key to the whole exam: whatever we do to/for even the least person, we do to/for Christ (“in the distressing disguise of the poor”, as Bl. Mother Theresa used to say). Whenever we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick or visit the imprisoned, it is Christ’s suffering that we relieve. You may recognize these (with the additional one of burying the dead) as the corporal works of mercy recommended by the Church (and in case we’re still looking for specifics in what to avoid, the reading from Leviticus gives us a long list of those). Whenever we serve the needy, we serve Christ, demonstrating our love for Him. Whenever we neglect the needy, we neglect Christ and demonstrate our lack of love for Him. If we don’t love Him here and now, we won’t love Him in eternity either, and He won’t force Himself on us. Cutting ourselves off from the love of God is one definition of hell.

Now we get to apply this eternal perspective to our lives here and now, to “check our own answers”, as it were. If God were to collect our exams today, how would we do? How do our priorities measure up? What do we need to change to make our choices (“answers”) agree with God’s?

May we grow in love of God today, that we may be blessed to live in His Love for all eternity.

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