This reflection encourages youth to consider how they are taking care of those in need and helps them learn about the corporal works of mercy.
Most of us don’t like to think about death. But for the Christian, death is an opportunity to move on to something better – eternal life with God. And the fact is, we will all die someday. But God does not force us to join Him in heaven. In fact, Jesus makes it clear we have a choice.
Read the Judgement of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46):
Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right, '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.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."Matthew 25:31-46
- How does this reading make you feel? Why?
- If you were to die today, what are some of the good things you have done for others which you might be judged on?
- What are some areas of your life you might want to change based on this reading?
This gospel reading might make you feel confident, uncertain, or both. But fortunately the Church provides us for some guidelines for how we can serve Christ by meeting the physical needs of others. These are called the Corporal Works of Mercy.
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit those in prison
- Bury the dead
- Give alms to the poor
So let’s look at each of these and think about how we can practice them. (For some ideas to help the discussion along, see Corporal Works of Mercy.)
Let’s start with feed the hungry. We all hear of people in our communities who lose their jobs or for one reason or another can’t just go to the store and buy the food they need to sustain themselves.
- Have you ever volunteered at a foodbank or soup kitchen?
- What is one practical thing you could do to help somebody who is hungry?
Next is give drink to the thirsty. With water readily available to us from the faucet, we might not consider that thirst can be a problem.
- Have you ever considered that there are people in the world who are thirsty?
- Why might somebody be thirsty and how can we help?
We should shelter the homeless. There are homeless people throughout our communities.
- Have you ever encountered a homeless person?
- If so, how did it make you feel?
- What are some ways we can help provide shelter for those who don’t have it?
What about visit the sick? Being sick is miserable, and a visitor can help take their mind off of how they feel.
- Have you ever known somebody who was seriously ill?
- Are you comfortable visiting someone who is sick?
- If you can’t visit somebody in person, how else can you help?
Visit those in prison. This can be difficult, because most of us can’t just go to a prison and visit a random person.
- Do you think prisoners deserve our help?
- If you can’t visit a prisoner, what is something else you can do to assist?
Bury the dead. This doesn’t mean pick up a shovel and dig a grave. Most of us will never do that.
- What are some ways we can help bury the dead?
- Have you ever grieved the death of a loved one?
- How can the community comfort those who are grieving?
And finally, give alms to the poor.
- What are some ways you can give alms to the poor?
- How can you take a leadership role in helping those who don’t have enough?
So we’ve discussed some very practical ways that we can help others. And when our judgement day comes, we can hear Jesus say “whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
For this week, pick one of the corporal works of mercy and do it in some way. Try to stretch yourself and do something you haven’t done before or something which is a little outside of your comfort zone.