Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Today's readings represent what I think is the scariest instruction we have in the Gospel. And that is that we have to be clear about the lengths the Gospel demands that we go. It's easy to see people as panhandlers, con artists, and the like. But the Gospel demands that we see these people as Christ. The first reading makes it clear: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD."
If that doesn't strike fear into the heart of everyone who has passed by a brother or sister in need, I don't know what would. And I would be willing to bet that all of us here – including yours truly – has passed up an opportunity to serve a brother or sister in Christ in some way. In doing that, we have neglected to serve Christ himself, and he is the LORD.
One of the greatest prayers of my heart is that I would be able to see people as Christ sees them. Some days I'm good at that, and some days I'm not. But the idea is to keep making the prayer, and keep trying to live it. This doesn't mean we have to be the soft touch who gives in to every plea – honest and dishonest. But it does mean we have to be willing to reach out to those in need with the same love that Christ has for them. Because he is the LORD.
We who approach the Altar today to receive Christ in the Eucharist must be willing to receive Christ also in our brothers and sisters. More than that, we have to be willing to be Christ to them. Because he is the LORD.