Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Least Mission

Tonight, I went to a prayer group ta my parish. Due to the bombing in Boston on Monday, we had some quiet prayer time for the victims and their families. Toward the end of the night, there was a time to voice prayer intentions. A woman prayed for the "ones who commit these evils, that love will win out in their hearts."

Immediately, my mind jumped back to December. Here in CT, the Newtown shooting took place and I found myself so upset with the media and even those dear to me in how they were speaking of Adam, the shooter. In all of the media reports, even now, they recall the tragic loss of 26 people that day (20 students, 6 teachers). They leave out two other victims from their minds: Adam and his mother who he shot before heading to the elementary school. As I thought of him and the bombers, I thought of one of my favorite scripture passages that, to me, is all about missionary work.

The passage is from Matthew's gospel, chapter 25, verses 34-36,40):
Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visitied Me; I was in prison and you came to Me...Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.'
It's easy to read the passage above and volunteer our time serving the needy, bringing food to a food pantry, donating clothes to Goodwill. Helping those less fortunate is not that difficult for us to do. These things are greatly  important, but is something missing? I am reminded of a talk I heard Scott Hahn give in which he made it clear that Jesus spoke very specifically. (He was talking about in John's Gospel, the Bread of Life discourse). If Jesus wanted to be speaking figuratively about the Eucharist, he would have said so, but he didn't. And here,  in this passage, He does not speak ambiguosly about who we need to serve. "Even the least" is the direction. While there are easy ways to support the people who are in the category of "less than us," it's important to remember the least. It is difficult to pray for them, let alone outright help them, but we can. And we are commanded to. If we miss the mark on this, Jesus speaks very clearly about what will happen later in that same passage (Matthew 25:41-43,45-46):
Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sin, and in prison, and you did not visit Me...Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
There are so many people that are unseen, that are worse off than the poor, hungry, naked, and thirsty. Those who are on the verge of losing their souls to hell need us to see them. We need to be misisomnaries for them. Our prayers can have the power to introduce some inkling of loe into their lost hearts. God's mercy is endless, so must our prayers be for these, truly the least of our brothers and sisters on this earth. The ones who's hatred, misunderstanding, rage, confusion can cause them to commit such horrors.

*Bible passages are from the New American Standard translation, taken from Bible Gateway

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