My Lenten Reflection
I am blessed to be in a position to serve others through my work with St. Thomas Aquinas Center and with the Lafayette Urban Ministry. I am also blessed with a close and loving family who I adore and work very hard every moment of every day to be a worthy husband, a devoted father, and a caring son. A day does not go by that I do not reflect on Matthew 25:31-46 and the parable of the sheep and goats.
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.’
At St. Tom’s my work behind the scenes is quite fulfilling. One aspect of my role at St. Tom’s is overseeing the Mother Teresa Fund. The Mother Teresa Fund is an emergency financial assistance program that offers a safety net for families in crisis. Each day I listen to stories of hard working families who need a small bit of assistance. I am humbled by their strength and persistence in a time of great crisis in their lives. Such a little bit of kindness and a small amount of money from St. Tom’s is saving lives, enriching spirits, and giving hope.
In my work with LUM, my primary role is to promote the various services and programs offered by LUM through social media and traditional marketing. Whether it is offering safe housing for the homeless, emergency financial assistance through the LUM Good Samaritan Fund, educational enrichment programs for children through LUM Camp, the After School Program, the Achieve high school program or the 5th Quarter Summer Learning program; or food assistance through the St. John’s/LUM Food Pantry – LUM gives me an opportunity to serve families in our community in transition or crisis. Promoting such worthy initiatives is a joy.
Who am I to judge? How may I serve more? Am I really worthy enough?
I am reminded every day that I am merely a sinner but I have been given gifts from the Holy Spirit and called to serve others. And when I serve, I must not judge and I must always try to do more – to be more worthy and more grateful for how “rich” I am. I can and do pray for others less fortunate than I – but my prayers must be followed by action – otherwise I am only offering sympathy and pity to others which is not helpful to anyone. God wants us to serve others as Jesus was called to do. Forgive others as God has and stop punishing others for their past or current mistakes or misfortunes.
On a broader level, we must not judge other “nations” – we must not just hope and pray that the world will get better – we must stand up for others, speak up when we see injustices, advocate for those who are marginalized or disenfranchised, fight for peace, and take action to make positive change for EACH member of our communities not just the majority.
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.’
Every day I strive to be a good role model for others especially my children. Modeling that we must not only pray for others but we must also be servants – serving and giving without fear, without judgment, without hesitation. We must not let our prejudice and ignorance stop us from serving others. We have all needed the help of others – and seen friends and family members struggle due to unemployment, addiction, incarceration, relationship problems, death, and illness. If we turn our back on those in the most desperate need – it is neither neighborly nor Christian. We must give of our time, give from our gifts and talents, and give monetary gifts and from our material possessions – our tithing. And when we serve we must do so with grace, empathy, and humility — giving others hope and offering love and dignity.
Matthew 25 gives me a guidepost to live my life – and I might get it right 75% of the time. The important thing is that I am reflecting each day on how I can be a servant in some way, to someone each and every day.
And in reality – if I am honest with myself – my service is saving and enriching my soul as much as it is assisting others.
The Judgment of the Nations. *31f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32g 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. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 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. 35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40i 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.’ 41*j 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. 42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a 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.’ 44* 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?’ 45 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.’ 46l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
About the author
For those of you who know me — I must explain why I, of all people, am writing a Lenten Reflection. I have been a Catholic my entire life and love it. But I have never considered myself a pious or even slightly religious person. A couple of years ago when my pastor asked me to use my “gifts” to serve the church, I was honored. Subsequently I have facilitated several parish staff retreats, presented workshops on leadership for parishioners, and developed a capstone leadership program for college Catholic seniors. My pastor must have been pleased with my work and confident in my leadership training, organizational development skills, and work ethic — because three months ago he offered me a job (paid) with the church as their “parish administrator.” I have enjoyed serving my church and assisting my pastor in advancing the ministries, improving the operations, and creating a healthy work environment. What I was not looking forward to or at all comfortable with was the “religious” part of the job. Our weekly staff meeting often consist of reflecting on the readings and Gospel for the upcoming weekend — yikes. This was the epitome of being “outside of my comfort zone.” To my surprise, I get it — and more importantly no one chuckles when I offer my opinion. Then I found out that every church staff member must contribute to the daily Lenten Reflection Booklet. I reached a new level of anxiety — but I faced my fear, was the first one to sign up, and submitted my reflection early. Part of my strategy for signing up first was that I was able to select Matthew 25 — a reading that I have come to know through my work over the past couple of years with the Lafayette Urban Ministry. So — that is my story. I hope this helps put the above reflection into some perspective — and gives you something meaningful to ponder during the Lenten season.
Please let me know what you think. Thanks.