Mother Teresa was always saying: ‘The biggest disease in the world today is not leprosy or TB, but the feeling of being unwanted and uncared for.’ The greatest evil in the world is lack of love, the terrible indifference towards our neighbor. What the poor and not just the poor need even more than food, clothes and shelter is to be wanted. So the words of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel are as relevant as ever. This is what it will be like when we die and go to be with Jesus.
The King will turn to those on his right hand and say: ‘Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry for a smile and you smiled at me. I was hungry for a word of encouragement and you praised me. I was hungry for a word of appreciation and you thanked me.
‘I was thirsty for a word of recognition and you took notice of me. I was thirsty for a sign of friendship and you wrote me a letter or phoned me or even sent a text. I was thirsty for a little companionship and you stopped to chat with me.
I was a stranger and you made me feel welcome. I was a young person from a bad area and you gave me a job. I felt socially inferior to you but by your acceptance you built me up.
‘I was naked for want of self worth and you covered me with esteem. I was stripped of self-confidence and you dressed me in the cloak of confidence. I was naked from the loss of my good name, through gossip that was untrue and you clothed me in the garment of truth.
‘I was sick with doubt and worry and with your cheerful attitude you lightened my burden. I was wounded by failure and disappointment and by your supportive attitude you healed me. I was in a pit of depression and by your patient attitude you gave me hope.
‘I was in a prison of nerves and through your attitude of calm you set me free. I was in a prison of loneliness and through friendship you released me. I was in a prison of guilt and through your forgiveness you broke the chains of my guilt.
‘I was homeless for want of tenderness and affection, and you hugged me. I was homeless for want of sympathy and understanding and you listened to me. I was homeless for want of care, of love, and acceptance and you opened your heart and took me in.
There are so many kind things we could do for one another if we were a little more aware and sensitive. It is not a question of doing great things but of doing little things with great love as Mother Teresa says. Nor in most cases is it a matter of giving things. Rather it is a question of giving of ourselves, of our time, of our energy, of our love. Those who love genuinely do so without show and without expecting any reward. We are serving Christ and helping to build his kingdom when we love others sincerely, in simple practical everyday ways.
Wouldn’t it be terrible to have to appear before Jesus never having loved. Today’s Gospel is so important and central that if we were to forget everything else and remember and practise only this, we would be ok. For a Christian there is only one failure, one sin and that is not to love.
In the evening of our life we shall be examined on love. (St John of the Cross)
John has appeared before Our Lord Jesus Christ, his judge but also his saviour. How will we fare when our day comes?