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Monday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How do you expect your day to go? Do you already know who you will spend your day with? Have you already checked off in your mind which encounters you look forward to and which you will try to avoid? It's human to think this way. Neatly anticipating interactions gives us a certain amount of security. But what if we were surprised? What if we put on the mind of Christ—truly—and went on about our day with no preconceptions. What if we saw Jesus in every single person we meet today?

In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the last judgment. The Son of Man separates the righteous from the unrighteous—the sheep from the goats. To the righteous Jesus says, “Come, you blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. To the unrighteous he says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels”. In this passage, the criteria Jesus specifically mentions are the corporal works of mercy—acts of love all Christians perform in their life of discipleship. What is striking is the nearly identical response of both those on his right and those on his left to Jesus when he hands down their final judgment. Both the just and unjust are baffled. In describing the 'acts' (done or left undone), Jesus equates 'the least brothers' to himself. Explaining this he says, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did (did not do) for one of these least brothers of mine, you did (did not do) for me."(Mt 25:40, 45) Simply put, the just saw Jesus in every person they met; they were not sidetracked by behavior, appearance, social standing or prejudice.

Today, there will be many opportunities for us to see Jesus. If we think like Jesus, our thinking will prepare us ahead of time. We will go out into the world knowing we will encounter Jesus. We will see him in every single person we meet—even those we find difficult. Jesus will be there. So prepare yourself in advance. When will you see Jesus today?

- Gail Lyman