Jesus’ prayer sums up the gospel of Matthew and connects Jesus’ Beatitudes and the final teaching of his hidden presence revealed at the final judgement. The Beatitudes reveal the Father’s love given to the ‘little ones’, and as the end of Our Lord’s ministry nears the little ones who follow Jesus will know and reveal Jesus hidden presence.
As Passionists we seek Our Lord’s love made known in the Paschal Mystery and we share this mystery in our ministries. The prayer of Jesus that Matthew gives us thanks the Father the giver of hope in the revelation of love in Jesus, and for the call to love and serve him in the crucified, that is to take up our Cross and walk with Our Lord.
To you.…the poor in spirit and the single-hearted, the sorrowing, the hungering for holiness, and those persecuted for holiness sake, the peacemakers and the merciful, and to all who are persecuted and slandered because of me, Blessed, happy are you.
And to you who when…. I was hungry you gave food, thirsty and I was given drink, away from home and you welcomed me, naked and I was clothed, ill or in prison and you visited me…. When? When you did it for the least of my brothers and sisters you did it for me.
I remember a friend who has since died who ministered with me and would later marry and raise a family. He was gifted with compassion. He put people first. His work with a non-profit who ministered to the homeless seemed a good fit. He became an administrator and would work for two companies. Unfortunately, he was not an administrator. He gravitated naturally to practically caring for the poor. He was fired from both jobs. Not surprisingly the straw that broke the camel’s back in one job was washing the feet of a man who the aides were neglecting. He became unemployed shortly before retirement, and then due to his age found himself unemployable. He was ‘persecuted’ for his holiness, and a peacemaker when his wife declared war on those who fired him! He did not neglect Jesus ill or abandoned. My friend saw Jesus ill and abandoned and cared for him, he revealed the disguised Jesus in his good works.
I worked in Atlanta, GA many years ago now, and knew a parishioner gifted with a rich prayer life. She told me of her bus ride across Georgia to be be with her dying brother. in a small rural town, she was put off the bus to accommodate a white man. Her brother died before she arrived. This woman was poor in spirit. She felt privileged having the gift of Jesus. She gave to drink those thirsty for the strength to forgive. I was away from home, and she welcomed me into her world of seeing Christ even in such an action that caused irreparable pain, and she made Christ visible.
Have you seen ‘little ones’, those who follow Jesus who reveals the Father’s love as Matthew tells us, and in their love make Christ visible to us? Where have you encountered brothers and sisters who took up their cross to follow Jesus from Beatitudes to the revealing of his presence in their love as well as in the persons whom they loved? These are two stories I still ponder. What are yours?
Fr. William Murphy, CP is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Jamaica, New York.