Once Swami Vivekanandha asked his disciples a question. When is it that you are in the daylight, and when is that you are in the night? One of the disciple said, "when the sun rises it is day and when the sun sets it is night?" Another disciple said, "When I can distinguish between a rope and a snake from a distance then it is day, if I fail then I am in the night." After being dissatisfied with their answers, he said to his disciples, "When you see from afar a man or a woman as your brother and sister, then you are in the light; when you fail to see in a man or a woman as your brother and sister then you are in darkness."
In the first reading today, God was dissatisfied with the worship and prayers of the people because their life was far away from bringing justice to the poor and needy. The poor were treated unjustly because the rich distanced themselves from them. God demands that worship has to be consistent with the practice of justice on behalf of the downtrodden, the helpless, the orphans and the widows. God hears our prayers especially when we dedicate our life to the poor and the needy.
In the gospel today, the call to discipleship requires sacrifices which invole absolute dedication to Jesus even over familial ties. As St. Benedict says, "Prefer nothing whatever to Christ". Then, Jesus promises the rewards of discipleship and his complete identification with his disciples. "He who welcomes you, welcomes me…" "Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers and sisters you have done to me." Let us pray that we may be faithful to God’s call and bring justice through our love for our brothers and sisters beyond our boundaries.
Fr. A. Justin Nelson, C.P. is member of the Indian Passionist Vicariate and is currently serving as associate pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky.