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Gospel for Sunday, November 26: Matthew 25: 31-46

Feast of Christ the King A

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 Before him all the nations will be gathered. He will separate one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you blessed of my Father, receive your inheritance of the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world, 35 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, 36 naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to visit you?”.

40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I say to you, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me.” 41 Then he will also say to those on the left, “Away from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44 They too will then answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not serve you?” 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I say to you, whatever you did not do to one of the least of these, you did not do to me.” 46 And they shall go away: these to eternal torment, and the righteous to eternal life.

Mt 25: 31-46

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it). Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

THE WORKS OF MERCY

God is Mercy

Works of mercy, corporal and spiritual, are at the heart of the believer’s life. In fact, mercy comes not only from a feeling of compassion toward those in distress or from an ethical imperative of solidarity, but it is the very love of God that fills us and causes us to overflow toward others, for God is Mercy. Indeed, “mercy, in the biblical sense, is much more than an aspect of God’s love. Mercy is like the very being of God. Three times before Moses, God speaks his name. The first time, he says, “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). The second time, “I will give grace to whom I will give grace, and I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy”” (Ex 33:19). The rhythm of the sentence is the same, but grace and mercy are substituted for being. For God to be what he is is to do grace and mercy. This confirms the third proclamation of God’s name: ‘The Lord, God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in grace and faithfulness’ (Ex. 34:6)” (Taizé Community). Pope Francis affirms : “Mercy in Sacred Scripture is the key-word to indicate God’s action toward us. He does not merely affirm his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, moreover, could never be an abstract word. By its very nature it is concrete life: intentions, attitudes, behaviors that occur in daily action.”

“Merciful are we as the Father” (Luke 6:36)

If therefore God’s mercy precedes all our mercy, works of mercy, however, are our way of responding to God’s mercy. “Mercy is not only the Father’s action, but it becomes the criterion for understanding who his true children are. In short, we are called to live by mercy, because mercy was first used to us” (Pope Francis).

Filled, then, with God’s mercy, we must pour out mercy to our neighbor. In her wisdom, the Church has always given concreteness to the command to be merciful. Already the Catechism of Christian Doctrine, said to be by Pius X, enumerated seven works of corporal mercy, six of which were taken from Matthew chapter 25 (Mt 25:35-36). For the Lord wanted to identify himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned: “For as often as you did these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me…; as often as you did not do these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it not to me” (Mt 25:31-46); “For whoever does not love his brother whom he sees, cannot love God whom he does not see. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God, let him also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).

Pope Francis exhorts us, “It is my fervent desire that the Christian people reflect… on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to awaken our conscience, which is often drowsy before the drama of poverty, and to enter more and more into the heart of the Gospel, where the poor are the privileged ones of divine mercy. Jesus’ preaching presents us with these works of mercy so that we can understand whether or not we are living as his disciples… We cannot escape the Lord’s words: and by them we will be judged… In each of these “least ones” Christ himself is present. His flesh becomes visible again as a battered, scourged, scourged, undernourished, fleeing body…, to be recognized, touched and cared for by us.” Pope Francis further says, “Those who have experienced in their own lives the mercy of the Father cannot remain insensitive before the needs of their brothers and sisters. The teaching of Jesus that we have heard allows no escape: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked, a refugee, sick, in prison and you assisted me’ (cf. Mt. 25:35-36). One cannot prevaricate before a person who is hungry: he must be fed. Jesus tells us this! The works of mercy are not theoretical themes; they are concrete testimonies. They compel us to roll up our sleeves to alleviate suffering.

Due to the changes in our globalized world, some material and spiritual poverties have multiplied: let us therefore give space to the imagination of charity to identify new ways of operation. In this way, the way of mercy will become more and more concrete. We, therefore, are asked to remain vigilant as sentinels so that it does not happen that, in the face of the poverty produced by the culture of well-being, the gaze of Christians weakens and becomes incapable of aiming at the essential. Aiming at the essential. What does that mean? Aiming at Jesus, looking at Jesus in the hungry, the imprisoned, the sick, the naked, the one who has no job and has to carry on a family. To look at Jesus in these brothers and sisters of ours; to look at Jesus in the one who is lonely, sad, in the one who is making a mistake and needs counseling, in the one who needs to make their way with Him in silence so that they can feel companionship. These are the works Jesus asks of us! To look at Jesus in them, in these people. Why? Because in this way Jesus looks at me, He looks at all of us.”

“Blessed are the merciful” (Mt 5:7).

And he who is merciful will be happy. Jesus announces a true beatitude of mercy: “Blessed (makàrioi) are the merciful, for they shall find mercy” (Mt 5:7). Makàrios is derived from makàr, an ancient term indicating divine happiness, the very condition of God: but at the time of the Gospels it is the only term available to indicate a “happy” man in the broadest sense of the term. “To the merciful, Jesus promises nothing more than what they already experience: mercy… What more could God give to the merciful? Mercy is the fullness of God and humans. The merciful already live by the very life of God… It is mercy that is the purest reflection of God in a human life. “By mercy toward your neighbor you resemble God” (Basil the Great). Mercy is the humanity of God. It is also the divine future of man” (Taizé Community).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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