Bishop Banda’s homily, Monday, 1st Week of Lent
“Service to Mankind is service to God” is a recurring dictum among many languages. Our parable today relates very much in line with this widely accepted wisdom and the need to share our fortunes with the less fortunate. At the close of our life, Jesus will remind us that: “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it unto me”.
In this Lenten season, Jesus calls us to pay particular attention to small but basic acts of love. These acts of love such as sharing of food, offering a drink and being generous to others, strangers, and the weak. We are also called to provide and being available to the needy, the sick, the aged, abandoned and the isolated.
These basic acts which may not make the headlines, are however important to God. In our first reading, God commands His people to be holy just as He is holy. The expression of holiness is in paying particular attention to basic acts of love like sharing, in generosity, availability which in most cases even seem trivial. But these count in God’s sight, and they count for eternity.
From the corridors of scripture, we realize that many did not recognize God’s presence in the person of Jesus Christ. In many ways Jesus seemed too ordinary to be someone through whom God was at work in any significant way. The people of Nazareth questioned: ‘Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?’
In today’s gospel it’s clear how few will recognize His presence in our daily life, especially His presence in those who are in greatest need, whether in need of food, drink, clothing, hospitality, health, freedom etc. Ironically, we may even ask: “When did we see you…?” God’s presence in His Son was not always obvious to Jesus’ generation, and the presence of the risen Lord will not always be obvious to us either. The Lord comes to us not in signs and wonders but in weakness, in the brokenness and in the suffering of others whoever they are.
During this Lenten season our Lord calls us to listen attentively to all our encounters. There is a deeper, more sacred, and quality to all our encounters with others than what
meets the eye. Let us learn to open our eyes especially to the weak, vulnerable and those on the periphery of our social ladder or cartel.