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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Nov. 20, 2011

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service


November 20, Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Cycle A Readings:

1) Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6

2) 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

Despite its inherent daunting challenge, I've always loved this week's Gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 25, describing "the Last Judgment." It says that we ultimately will be judged by whether or not we serve the "least" -- the lost and most needy people -- among us.

That passage always conjures up in my imagination an occasional chance discovery by me of someone struggling in one of the ways listed. I see myself interrupting my routine to respond to a lonely, hungry or oppressed person's need.

So, according to my imagined scene, I pass judgment. Sometimes, thanks to the calling of this Gospel, I do this in real life.

But I have the nagging feeling that such an approach is minimal. Consider the companion reading from Ezekiel, in which the Lord seeks out the lost, strayed, injured and sick to heal and comfort them.

I've witnessed other people who have made seeking out the least the foundation of their lives. For instance, a woman I know has spent her entire adulthood training, creating employment opportunities and advocating for individuals with disabilities. Nancy began as a restaurateur and chef, but once she started hiring people with disabilities to work in her establishments, their welfare became her overriding concern.

Her restaurant business became secondary to training and employing the disabled in meaningful work for which their community would respect them. Besides restaurants, Nancy set up small catering and restaurant support enterprises, always focused on providing handicapped people with marketable skills.

Recently she initiated a program, training and employing persons with disabilities, to contract with certain businesses to develop and maintain databases.

Nancy has made it her occupation to seek out people struggling at the margins of society and help them fulfill their human potential and encourage their independence.

Jesus said, "Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Indeed, we come face to face with our love for God in serving "the least," even if it's only when we run across them from time to time. But if we seek out and continue to accompany "the least" among us, we likewise find Christ and remain with him.

QUESTIONS:

How have you experienced Christ among "the least" in your community? What do you gain -- or can you expect -- from an ongoing relationship with them?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep" (Ezekiel 34:12).

END



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