Monday of the First Week in Lent
(Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18; Matthew 25:31-46)
A few weeks the Vatican announced that it is arranging free haircuts and shaves for street people in Rome. Already a section of St. Peter’s colonnade has been sectioned off for showers and toilets for these poorest of the poor. Now the Church is also providing a space for barbers to come on their day off to provide their services. It is not so much that Pope Francis thinks “cleanliness is next to Godliness” but that he knows caring for the poor is God’s will.
The first reading today is part of the “holiness code” of the Old Testament. Its emphasis on justice shows that religion in the Jewish tradition demands more than prayer and asceticism. Jesus pushes the idea to its extreme. He tells his disciples that they reverence him when they serve the needy.
The poor surround us. They are not necessarily begging on street corners. They may be serving us breakfast or cutting our lawn. We must not look pass them. Quite the contrary we need to see in them a reflection of Jesus. In a way like taking the body and blood in the Eucharist, meeting their needs provides access to eternal life.