Monday in the First Week of Lent at Mississippi Abbey

Today’s Gospel of the last judgement is a far cry from the official teaching of the Catholic Church as taught to me in the 5th grade by Sr. Cleophas. At the last Judgement everyone would be assembled and your name would be called out. Your parents would be there and your aunt a nun and all your sins would read out loud. How embarrassing is that!  I promised never to sin again.

Now that I am older the Gospel story is more real and more solid. It really tells us what the future will be. Some people had an insatiable need to know the future. One such was our Br. Kevin. I admired him and still do but one thing I could never get him to do was to stop predicting the future. He was a fan of a thing called Catholic Prophesies. He came from a family of 12 and he used to get his sisters all upset with these dire predictions. On such was  the Great Chastisment which was going to happen soon. This was when a thick darkness would cover the earth. Only those with a special candle would be able to see. Kevin had this candle in his room. Some of these prophesies came from off beat apparitions of Mary which caused Fr. David, who is not known for his sentimental devotions, to say that the Mother of Mercy is going to appear with a big sword and lop off the heads of sinners!

If you want to know the future today’s Gospel is the best place to look. It tells us about the future and what we will be judged on. The bottom line is that we will be judged on how we treat other people. How we treat others is how we treat Jesus. All the people listed in the Gospel are people who need help, people who without the necessities of life, clothing, shelter, freedom, health. Living in the cloister as we do we might not encounter such people, but we do live in a community, we live in common. We might not meet people who are homeless but we might meet a person who is lonely; we don’t meet prisoners but we might meet some who don’t seem to have emotional freedom; we don’t visit people in the hospital but we might meet people who are hurting and need a helping hand.

The only people not mentioned in the Gospel are us. We are sort of outside looking in or sitting here listening in. The story is meant for us. We are disciples of Jesus, followers, we want to live like he did. We have nothing but reverence, adoration and love for Jesus. What he is telling us is that is fine but you don’t see me but you do see the person next to you, you do see people in your community who need a helping hand occasionally or a word of encouragement.

How you treat them, Jesus is saying to us, is how you treat me.