“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:40
In Matthew 25, Jesus identifies himself as incarnate always through people in need. Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day (1897–1980) expands on this gospel message:
It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts.
But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that He speaks, with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that He gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that He walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that He longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ….
It would be foolish to pretend that it is always easy to remember this. If everyone were holy and handsome, with “alter Christus” [“another Christ”] shining in neon lighting from them, it would be easy to see Christ in everyone. If Mary had appeared in Bethlehem clothed, as St. John says, with the sun, a crown of twelve stars on her head, and the moon under her feet [see Revelation 12:1], then people would have fought to make room for her. But that was not God’s way for her, nor is it Christ’s way for Himself.
Day offers examples of those who ministered to the Christ child and how we can too:
In Christ’s human life, there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd. The shepherds did it; their hurrying to the crib atoned for the people who would flee from Christ. The wise men did it; their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand’s breadth from the routine of their lives to go to Christ. Even the gifts the wise men brought have in themselves an obscure recompense and atonement for what would follow later in this Child’s life. For they brought gold, the king’s emblem, to make up for the crown of thorns that He would wear; they offered incense, the symbol of praise, to make up for the mockery and the spitting; they gave Him myrrh, to heal and soothe, and He was wounded from head to foot….
We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with…. For a total Christian, the goad of duty is not needed … to perform this or that good deed. It is not a duty to help Christ, it is a privilege.
Dorothy Day, Selected Writings: By Little and By Little, ed. Robert Ellsberg (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1983, 1992), 94, 96, 97.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 7, 5 and 8 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
Together we are the incarnate hands and feet and body of God.
Story from Our Community:
The Daily Meditations have deepened not only my relationship with God but also with my dear sister-in-law. I begin every day with a “sacred hour” that begins with reading the Daily Meditations. So often there is a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that speaks directly to me and where I’m at on my journey. Often this leads to a conversation with my sister-in-law. We reach out to each other to share what touched us and often it leads to discussion on a deeper level. The meditations have been a vehicle for us to journey together. It has been an amazing and unexpected blessing.