Every time I hear this passage, I almost automatically review the last time a street person asked me for spare change” (or more) and the modest guilt I felt when I did not give anything, mainly out of concern for becoming a soft touch or the victim of a con. Was that what Jesus had in mind when he challenged us to see how we responded to him in the need of those we encounter more than passing them in the street?
How do I respond to Christ in need when my co-worker needs some of my time to listen or comfort him or her? How do I respond to Christ in need when I come face to face with injustice or intolerance? It seems increasingly acceptable for us Americans to give vent to our fears of people who are different from ourselves (different customs, language, values). Can I still find Christ in need? And how in the world do we respond to the millions of refugees who show us the face of Christ in need?
—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J. serves as assistant to the Jesuit superior at Colombiere Center, Clarkston, MI.