“In righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. ”
A reading from the Book of Leviticus (Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18)
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. And you shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. “You shall do no injustice in judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm19:18.104.22.168 (R. Jn 6:63c)
R/. Your words, O Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the Lord is perfect;
it revives the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are steadfast;
they give wisdom to the simple. R/.
The precepts of the Lord are right;
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear;
it gives light to the eyes. R/.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The judgements of the Lord are true;
they are, all of them, just. R/.
May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer! R/.
VERSE BEFORE THE GOSPEL 2 Corinthians 6:2b
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 25:31-46)
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ “Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
In the sixth Station of the Cross, Jesus speaks: “Can you be brave enough to wipe my bloody face?” “Where is your face?” you may ask, and I will answer “at home, at work, in the streets, in market corners, wherever suffering exists, my face is there and there I look for you to wipe away my blood and tears.”
Growth in the spiritual life is ability to see Jesus in other people. This is the essence of holiness, the summary of the entire commandments and the basis on which we shall be judged at the end of time. Christ will welcome us into Paradise because we wiped away his tears and blood in the face of the naked, the homeless, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned and the thirsty. When you see tears flowing from a person’s eyes, when you see a person lost, confused, worried and dejected, you see Jesus. Treat people well, not because they deserve it but because you just want to be kind to the Jesus you see in them. If someone begs from you, take it as the voice of Jesus begging from you and treat that person just as you would love God to treat you when you beg from him in prayer.
The book of Leviticus tells us: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbour, lest you bear sin because of him…but you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Leviticus 19:15-18.
Are you finding it difficult to overcome hatred in your heart for a brother or sister? Then try to see the face of Jesus in that particular brother or sister. Realize that whatever it is that you are planning against him or her, it is Jesus himself you are planning against. The moment you start seeing Jesus in your enemies, your heart begins to melt towards them. You no longer feel like striking back at them but praying for their deliverance from captivity. The only way you can love your enemies as Jesus teaches us is by seeing the face of Jesus in your enemies.
The book of Proverbs adds: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22.