“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 these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
– Matthew 25:34-40
What can I do as a single individual? How can I contribute?
We may think we have to be further along on our own personal journey, be more perfect in our contemplative practice, or have reached some spiritual pinnacle before we can contribute to serving those in need. However, if we follow what Jesus suggests in Matthew 25, we intuitively know that all we need to do is take responsibility for those in need who are right in front of us, out of love – a smile, a cup of water, a listening ear, a concerned, non-judgmental helping hand. Someone is in need right next door, at home, at work, everywhere we turn. The spiritual journey is a process of transformation of the self and beyond the self, opening our eyes and hearts to a greater awareness of the needs of those with whom we interact in daily life and throughout the world.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is an associate Baptist minister who is part of a movement called “the New Monasticism,” applying the wisdom of the desert mothers and fathers to our modern life in community. In his book, The Wisdom of Stability, he talks about being trained to go out into the world to work for peace and justice only to have God’s love become real for him at home in his community. Here is a little bit of his story:
I was raised in Christian churches by people who loved me well, charged to go out there and make a difference in the world, and given some of the best resources and training available for the task… A citizen of God’s kingdom, I tried to put my American passport to work for good in the world. But racking up all those frequent flyer miles for Jesus, I felt lonely. I wanted to share God’s love with others but wasn’t sure where to experience it myself.
I stumbled into a little intentional community of Christians who were trying to love one another and their neighbors. It wasn’t easy, and it showed. But I saw something compelling in that little group’s experiment with faith: they had given themselves to God and one another in a particular place. They saw one another’s junk, and they could talk about it. In all the ordinariness of everyday life, they knew what it meant to need forgiveness and receive it. In short, they were learning to love one another. God’s love became real for me in that place. I caught a glimpse of what I had been looking for.
While some of us may be called to go out into the world to work for peace and justice, many of us will be like Jonathan and find our way to serve at home in our community. At the end of this session’s video Fr. Thomas reminds us that “you have the destiny to be transformed and the capacity to transmit your personal transformation, that is, your absorption of the divine mystery, your assimilation into the Word of God, into daily life among the people you know and with whom you live.
A Prayer for Our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
– Pope Francis, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home
- View the video excerpt “Contemplation in Action, Part 2” which is about 20 minutes in length.
- Spend some time praying with and reflecting on A Prayer for Our Earth by Pope Francis, which really is a prayer for all creation. What is evoked within you?