Today’s readings are perfectly timed, seeing how we are at the very start of Lent. The LORD reminds us that a judgment awaits us on the last day. And we will be judged on every human interaction we have had and a bit more worryingly, those pesky errors of omission. For Our God takes everything that is done towards the least of our brethren very personally. St. Paul was knocked off his horse because he persecuted the early Christians with whom Jesus identified very intimately. So let us be thankful for the many reminders that it is not by faith alone that we gain eternal bliss.

I Am the LORD

Many times, we need to be reminded of one simple fact: God is God. We are not. Through the voice of Moses, the people of Israel are instructed to live upright lives intertwined with the reiteration: “I am the LORD”.

The first reading in a nutshell: Be holy. Live an upstanding life. Fear God. Love your neighbor as yourself. That is just a quick summary, the text spells out in greater detail how we are supposed to act and includes plenty of practical examples, including not cheating, defrauding or exploiting our fellow man; and above all, loving God and neighbor with all our heart, might, mind and soul.

Our mission statement should have on it the words spoken today: Be Holy, for the Lord your God is holy.

The fruits will be manifested by our actions. The LORD leaves us with no surprises, we know exactly what is expected of us.

Judging Justly

One line in particular stands out in the first reading. Judge your fellow men justly.

Each of us has a law, an altar, and a seat of judgment within our hearts. It is natural to pass judgment on what we see, hear and observe, but as a flawed human instrument, I am bound to measure with my human measure. We need a steady marinade of God’s wisdom and statutes to rise above our fallen self to do the right thing for our fellow neighbor, passing stranger, or those trying our patience so high.

In today’s Gospel, we are confronted with the Judgment of the Nations. And we hear these words from our Savior, King, and Judge:

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. Mt 25:40

What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. Mt 25:45

Certain passages of the Bible cause me to break out into a bit of a sweat. Today’s spectacle of the Son of Man sitting upon His glorious throne and judging the nations is one of those. Which of us can face the implicit Question and not have qualms?

Whatever is on My Left

This is a broken world. The news is dire in the extreme. South Sudan deserves special mention with people dying of famine and the civil war making life ‘a living nightmare for children’. At every turn, we see the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned. The biggest thing we need to fight is our own apathy. We can help it. We must help it.

At this beginning of Lent, I challenge all of us, self-first and foremost, to live our lives differently from here on out. Cutting out beer and chocolate for Lent is not going to save any lives, including my own. So, let us get involved in a great cause and keep at it long after this Lent has faded in the rearview mirror.

One great source of good (if you’re looking for options) is the Catholic Church. Any given Sunday offers another opportunity to join the great work of charity for which the Church is an active agent and beacon of hope. The Church understands human suffering well, it is after all, an extension of the Suffering Servant, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who identifies with the Poor.

At the end of our lives, which is our answer to The Lords’ Question, we will strain desperately to hear his verdict.

Will we be counted among the blessed or will our Lord banish us to the unnamed with a curt “Whatever…”?

“And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” Mt 25:4

[Readings: Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Mt 25:31-46]

D'Souza Family

The D’Souza family who go by the moniker, Unity Flame, consists of Patrick and Juliet and their three daughters, Naomi, Nicole, and Nadine. Patrick and Juliet spent their formative years in India and have been married 26 years. Being a missionary is at the heart of their family. Patrick and Juliet are members of the Regnum Christi movement, have homeschooled their children, and have been active members of their parish church and small Catholic community. Their daughters have been active participants as in the Challenge girls clubs, which emphasize formation, friendship with Christ, and virtue-driven leadership programs. Naomi and Nadine have each spent a “gap” year between high school and college as missionaries in the Philippines and Atlanta. Contact: [email protected]

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