I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Jesus grants infinite mercy if we see and serve Him in others

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On Nov. 26, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The feast describes our commencement time on earth; the Scriptures vividly describe our future. Each of us, without fail, will be there. For some, it will be a time of receiving a sentence, and for others a diploma or reward — both unending.

To get a better idea of that day, look at the Scriptures to learn more about the God who invites us. We know that out of love He has freely created us in His image and likeness. He has enrolled us in the school of His Gospels through baptism and paid all tuition by His passion, death and resurrection. He has also sent us the Holy Spirit to instruct us every step of the way.

The feast day's first reading tells us that God looks after us. "I myself will look after and tend my sheep." He doesn't abandon us to strangers or to wild animals. "As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark." On a cloudy, windy night, as sheep seek a place of shelter, they get separated. The shepherd calls them together so that they enjoy the presence of the whole flock.

"I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly." He wants all sheep to be well tended, fed and rested, and protected from other sheep that would harm them. Those who bully others, the shepherd will destroy.

Let us translate this imagery to throw light on what God has done and continues to do for us. Without our asking, He created us in His image and likeness. When we were lost in sin, He died on the cross for our salvation. Through the waters of baptism, He made us beloved sons and daughters of the Father. He has given us His love letters in the Gospels. He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we recognize His voice in the Gospels and placed a desire in our hearts to know, love and serve Him. In the Holy Eucharist, He has given us His own Body and Blood to nurture us. He has given us the Church to guide and encourage us. In confession, He forgives our sins.

In addition, He is madly in love with each of us. The Father loves us just as He loves His Beloved Son. The Son loves us as much as He loves His own Father. In fact, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love us more than we love ourselves. They can't wait to reveal the glory in store for us for all eternity, if only we live out the Gospels in our daily lives.

In the Gospel, Jesus spells out the criterion for entering into heaven. It's very simple: Have we recognized Jesus in those with whom we live and work? Have we reached out with love and kindness, with food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, clothing for the naked, care for the ill, and have we visited Him in prison? The surprise will come when we recognize that it was really Jesus in disguise that we befriended.

This past week we celebrated the feast of St. Martin of Tours. When he was a catechumen and had just heard about Jesus, he met on a cold night a stranger who was insufficiently clad. Martin took his sword and cut his cloak in two and gave it to the stranger. That night in a dream he saw Jesus wearing half of his cloak and Jesus told the angels that His friend Martin gave it to Him.

If we are faithful, the diploma we receive at the end will say, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me." These will enter into a life of glory.

If, on the other hand, we lived a life of self-indulgence, ignoring the lonely, the hungry, the destitute, our sentence will read, "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." These will go off to eternal punishment.

The time for doing a reassessment of our lives grows shorter with every sunset. The Holy Spirit helps you with your self-assessment. He is always warm, loving and truthful. Ask Him to show you your sins. Don't be afraid. He loves you more than you love yourself. He wants to save you even more than you want to be saved. He has the surprise of your life waiting for you. If you genuinely repent and recognize Jesus in others and show kindness and mercy to them, then He will grant you the infinite mercy of Jesus. This mercy is yours for the repentance. An eternity of either joy or punishment is in store for you. Only you can make the decision.

The Holy Spirit knows all things, including your sinfulness and God's merciful forgiveness. Today could be the most precious day of your life and the eternity that is on its way. 

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