for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
The past two days we read the Matthew and Luke accounts of Jesus answering the question, “what is the greatest commandment?” We often refer to the passage as the “Greatest Commandment,” and yet there are two commandments there! The first is to love God with your heart, soul, etc. and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s not until we read this passage where we see how you cannot follow one commandment without following the other. They mean the same thing! We love God by loving others. If we proclaim to love God but hate our neighbor, then we are liars. It is right and good to gather together and sing songs of praise and love to God, but that’s not the kind of love that Jesus mentions here. “I was hungry and you gave me food.” Jesus wants us to reach out and physically help those in need. The kind of love that Jesus wants us to express does not require special skill or talent or a spiritual gift. We can all tend the sick and visit the imprisoned and so much more. Isn’t it funny and a little sad that we spend so much time arguing about what the Church ought to be when Jesus tells us in very clear words?
GO! Love God and love others.