We live in a world where there is so much turmoil, so much pain and so much division. As we come together and bring to a close of this liturgical year, my heart is heavy. We pray and work toward the transformation of our community and our world to reflect the true and real presence of the Kingdom of God.
Here in South St. Petersburg we’ve seen an increase in violent death. As I pray with our people, talk with local pastors and collaborate with the civil authorities we find ourselves asking the question: how do we stop the violence, how do we initiate a time, place and space for the Peace of Christ to Reign over our hearts?
We see in the simple image of the Good Shepherd a powerful approach to personal and communal transformation. In todays Gospel from Matthew 25, we find the shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. Namely those who are welcomed into the kingdom and those rejected. The transformative power that can impact the life of our community and our world is that of recognizing the value of the “other” and seeing in them the very presence of Jesus.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
It is through the great act of loving and sharing that love with those on the peripheries that we are transformed for good. For the good of the other and our good. Division, violence and hatred comes from within. One so focused on themselves that they fail to see and recognize those who are on the margins and those most in need. Look at what Jesus says in Mark 7:21: “1 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come.” This is why those on the left are condemned because they simply never even saw those who were suffering.
Let’s be agents of compassion reaching out and embracing those who suffer the most, those separated and alone. To see in the person on the peripheries the face of Christ, is to truly respond to God’s call to love. So many are struggling right now and God so desires to supply their need. God chooses to use us for this great service, and people bear witness to the greatness that God is working in their lives by their reaching out to others.