by Fr. Tommy Lane
A beautiful Christian ideal to have before us is that Jesus is present in my neighbor. Jesus is in the person next to me, the person behind me, in front of me, in the person with whom I live and work. One person in recent history who lived this is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When she was in hospital in 1983 this was part of her meditation, which we could read as a meditation on today’s Gospel (Matt 25:31-46) where Jesus said that whatever we do to others we do to him:
Jesus is the Hungry - to be fed.
Jesus is the Thirsty - to be satiated.
Jesus is the Naked - to be clothed.
Jesus is the Homeless - to be taken in.
Jesus is the Sick - to be healed.
Jesus is the Lonely - to be loved.
Jesus is the Unwanted - to be wanted.
Jesus is the Leper - to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggar - to give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkard - to listen to him.
Jesus is the Mental - to protect him.
Jesus is the Little One - to embrace him.
Jesus is the Blind - to lead him.
Jesus is the Dumb - to speak for him.
Jesus is the Crippled - to walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addict - to befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostitute - to remove from danger and befriend her.
Jesus is the Prisoner - to be visited.
Jesus is the Old - to be served.
When Mother Teresa accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1979, part of her acceptance speech went like this:
“It is not enough for us to say: ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor.’ Saint John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. (1 John 4:20) How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so this is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt.”
How can we love like this? Where will we get the power to love Jesus in others in this way as he asks in the Gospel today? (Matt 25:31-46) In a letter to the people of Albania on April 28th 1997 Mother Teresa gives the key to being able to see Jesus in others. The key to loving others is prayer. She wrote,
“To be able to love one another, we must pray much, for prayer gives a clean heart and a clean heart can see God in our neighbor. If now we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten how to see God in one another. If each person saw God in his neighbor, do you think we would need guns and bombs?”
We may not remember every time we are talking to someone, “Jesus is in this person.” In the parable in today’s Gospel the people were not aware of the presence of God in those around them. That is why in the parable both those to left and to the right of the Son of Man ask, “Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison?” (Matt 25:37,44) Because we do not always think like this Mother Teresa rightly said,
“If now we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten how to see God in one another. If each person saw God in his neighbor, do you think we would need guns and bombs?”
Thinking like this means thinking in a new way, putting on a new mind, letting our brains be washed with the Gospel of Jesus. And as Mother Teresa said, it is through prayer that we will receive the grace to see others with this new mind of Jesus.
When we put on this new mind, the mind of Jesus, then his kingdom is coming in our world. Then Jesus is King of our world.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2002
More homilies for the Thirty-Fourth Sunday Year A - Christ the King
on the Psalm Jesus is the Good Shepherd
On Jesus as King: Christ as a Powerless King
stories about seeing God in Others
stories about helping others
stories about service
of Blessed Mother Teresa's spirituality (Jesus on the Cross: I thirst)