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What We Do For Others, We Do For Him

There is a story about an old monk who for many years had prayed for a special vision from God. It came one day, just at the minute the monk was scheduled to feed the poor who gathered daily at the gate of the monastery. If he didn’t show up with food, the people would leave, thinking the

monastery had nothing to give them that day. The monk was torn between his duty to the poor and his heavenly vision. Then, with a heavy heart, he made his decision. He would feed the poor. An hour later, the monk returned to his room. When he opened the door, he could hardly believe his eyes. There was the vision waiting for him. It smiled and said, “My son, had you not gone to feed the poor, I would not have stayed.” The story reminds us that we cannot separate our love for God from our love for our neighbor. Loving our neighbor does not necessarily mean liking them. It means wanting and doing good for them whenever we can regardless of our feelings about them. In the final judgement scene in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus identifies himself with the hungry, the naked, those in prison, in other words with everyone in need. What we do for them, we do for Him. The Japanese Christian, Toyohiko Kagawa, summarized all this wonderfully when he wrote, “Let those searching for God visit the prison before going to the temple. Let them visit the hospital before going to church. Let them feed the hungry before reading the Bible.”


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