The Lord spoke to Moses. He said: ‘Speak to the whole community of the sons of Israel and say to them:
‘ “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.
‘ “You must not steal nor deal deceitfully or fraudulently with your neighbour. You must not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God. I am the Lord. You must not exploit or rob your neighbour. You must not keep back the labourer’s wage until next morning. You must not curse the dumb, nor put an obstacle in the blind man’s way, but you must fear your God. I am the Lord.
‘ “You must not be guilty of unjust verdicts. You must neither be partial to the little man nor overawed by the great; you must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice. You must not slander your own people, and you must not jeopardise your neighbour’s life. I am the Lord. You must not bear hatred for your brother in your heart. You must openly tell him, your neighbour, of his offence; this way you will not take a sin upon yourself. You must not exact vengeance, nor must you bear a grudge against the children of your people. You must love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” ’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “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 and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”
‘Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
‘And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
“We love because He first loved us”
A policeman walks up to a barefoot, homeless man sitting on the cold streets of New York. After checking on the man, the police officer goes off and reappears soon with a pair of new boots. He kneels to help the man put them on and quietly walks off.
Did the homeless man do anything to the police officer to warrant the goodness that was given to him? The answer is a very clear – NO; the homeless man was in need and the officer acted accordingly.
In my own life, my father appeared before my grandaunt when I was 2 months old. My parents, both aged 21, were still in university and needed someone to care for me. My grandaunt agreed without hesitation and I continued to live together with her till my early 30s when I got married. She loved and cared for me, not asking for anything in return.
Did the homeless man, or myself, do anything that allowed us to receive these blessings? Clearly, no. So it is with God, and even more so. ‘Grace’ is the free and unmerited favour we receive from God. There is NOTHING we can ever do that will help us earn a place in Heaven. Absolutely nothing.
Because we have received God’s grace so freely, we need to love our neighbours similarly. This commandment of love is the 2nd greatest commandment (Mat 22:39), next only to loving God with “all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”!
Brothers and sisters, let us remember this important commandment of Jesus to love and to show this love to those around us. Like the police officer and my grandaunt, we too should go about our lives not only doing good, but actively seeking good to do for our neighbours.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may always be sensitive to those around us who need our help. Help us to go beyond our personal needs and comfort zone and to be blessings.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for loving us unconditionally and for giving your Grace. Thank You for Your many blessings and for also giving us the capacity to love and care for others around us.