We are all familiar with the expression “Don’t get involved!” To some extent it has become a slogan of our times. In the gospel reading at our masses this weekend Jesus speaks of the misery and the hurts of the world and personally identifies with each. To one group he says: “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was lonely and you gave me hospitality. I was sick or in prison and you visited me.” The people then ask: “When did we do all these things for you?” and his reply was simply: “When you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” To another group he says the opposite: “When I was in need you did not help, you neglected to help me when I needed you.” The point of the parable is obvious. Jesus identifies with the hurts and the heartaches of the world. When I am lonely, God is lonely. When my neighbour grieves, God grieves. When a child is hungry, God is hungry. When a family is homeless, God is homeless. God is never removed from or indifferent to the suffering of humanity.
In the parable of the last judgement we see two groups of people. On the right hand stand those who helped and on the left stand those who refused to help. There is also a third group – those who needed help: the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the lonely. We ourselves are those people. Or at least at some time or other in our lives that experience comes to us. Sickness? Old age? We may not be there yet but if we live long enough every one of us is going to know what it is to need the help of others. So let’s get involved! Let’s play our part! Together let’s make a difference!
This weekend we salute and acknowledge the work of the many people who provide meals on wheels, who care for ageing or sick relatives or neighbours, home-helps, carers, all those who work with groups like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Simon or the Samaritans or so many others who give of themselves so generously to benefit others. The Gospel this weekend is a salute to you all. More importantly Jesus assures us all that every act of kindness to those in need, no matter how small, will have its reward. Fr John