1st Week of Lent, Monday

In today’s First Reading the Lord frames the need to be just and to love your neighbor as yourself as a way to be holy just as he is holy. The Lord reveals something that anyone with common sense and good will can see. Being ethical is a way of being loving, and loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself is a path to holiness. During Lent one possible Lenten resolution is almsgiving. Making an extra effort to be ethical and to be loving is a way of giving alms. In today’s First Reading the Lord describes many ways in which others can be in difficulty, and how helping them and being attentive to their needs is a path to holiness.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord gives another reason for loving and caring for others. The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” receives an explanation: what you do unto others you are also doing to the Lord himself. Love for neighbor goes from just being the ethical and loving thing to do to being a way to love God himself. Sometimes Our Lord hides really well in those we’re trying to love. Many saints throughout history have persevered in loving nasty, smelly, offensive, ungrateful people because they know they are loving Our Lord and showing those people how much God loves them. We may not feel loving or feel the love, but we continue to try based on a deeper spiritual conviction that it is the right thing to do and also a way of loving Our Lord. When we live this deep spiritual conviction, driven by charity, the difference between those who don’t and us is like the difference between a nasty cranky goat and a humble simple sheep: night and day.

Let’s take stock of our charity today toward God and others and expunge the inner goat.

Readings: Leviticus 19:1–2, 11–18; Psalm 19:8–10, 15; Matthew 25:31–46.