|St. Francis embracing the leper|
In fact, Jesus creates a crisis in our lives when he preaches of the kingdom of God. We have to act decisively, plan shrewdly, to claim our place.
Jesus connects our love of God to our love for one another. Matthew 25 says this loudly and clearly: when I was hungry, when I was thirsty, you did something. The point of that judgment scene is this: We can’t say we love God and yet neglect our fellow human beings.
Our love for one another doesn’t depend upon “what they can do for us.” After all, who were the beneficiaries of Jesus’ love! By and large, they were people who couldn’t do much in return.
Jesus makes some radical demands upon us with regard to our relationships with one another. Read carefully Chapter 5:38ff in Matthew. For example, Jesus says: "give to everyone who asks." It’s not always possible. But that particular demand indicates the thrust or direction of our lives: we have to be generous with what we have, especially with our time, talent and resources.
Jesus says elsewhere: “To the person who strikes you on one side of the face, offer the other side as well.” Sometimes we do have to stand up against wrongs; we may even have to take someone’s life in self-defense. Again, Jesus indicates the thrust or direction of our lives, that is, we should do our best to be peacemakers, healers, bridge builders, reconcilers, forgiving.
Now these radical demands of course have to be linked to the mission of Jesus. Jesus proclaims that the kingdom of God is here but not completely or fully here. You and I are living in between the historical coming of Jesus in Bethlehem and the final coming of Jesus in glory and power at the end time.
So, we live in the tension between the ideal and the real. And often we fall short of the ethical ideals of Jesus because we have within ourselves a “pull” or tendency to not always choose the good.
But the grace or power of God within us can overcome this tendency within ourselves, and strengthen that relationship with God and with one another. How? By being generous. And by being peacemakers within and outside the family.
All of us have the potential to do great things for God. And it begins with small, ordinary things.
I pray that the Word of God will inspire us to nurture our relationship with God in prayer, and serve our fellow human beings compassionately and generously.