41Then He will say to those on His left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” 44 Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty, a stranger or lacking clothes, sick or in prison, and did not come to Your help?”
45 Then He will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.” ~ Matthew 25 : 41 – 45
It is far easier to seek and save the ones who are visibly maimed, wounded….their eyes and stance beseeching us to rescue them from their pain.
Unfortunately, the sheep we are called save through our love and mercy do not always look like they are in need of saving. Too often, they seem well-fed, very secure, and downright bent on making our lives a misery.
After a wounding some days back, I have been careful to give the snare of expressing my hurt to others, as wide a berth as possible. I hurt very much that day that I had willfully cast aside the Cross in favour of human comfort. I vowed to never step into that fog again.
And I didn’t yesterday when the sheep chose to be difficult. I held my tongue. I chose to comfort others affected by these recalcitrant and insensitive types. I thought I did pretty well.
I felt smug.
And then, I walked right back into the fog at the edge of the cliff.
While I managed to absorb the stings of yesterday, and not give them the airing I craved, it was a full tournament inside my head and heart. I steamed and stewed and plotted and schemed. My prayers were about me telling God what needed to be done, the amount of pain they needed, the kind of pain that was best, and just where to strike.
Oh, and all interspersed with prayers of Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, of course. All for the sheep’s own good. That they see the light.
I returned home to an unusually quiet evening of winds that roamed the tree paths in a muted dirge. It felt as if the leaves were holding their breath. I was not in a turmoil. Yet, there was some disquiet within that was hard to dislodge. When the birdcalls of a waning sunset began to rise, a Hand rested on my soul and firmly turned it to face a Light.
In so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.
This I didn’t want to hear. I fought against the words the Unseen hand wrote on my heart. I marshalled every argument against the Light that fell on my failing. I justified my hidden response of vengeance.
Through it all, the Light shone on, strong and unwavering. In so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to Me.
When I had exhausted the last of my fight, I sank and wrote this in the air before me~ I have failed Thee. Yet again. Because I knew the truth. Not a whit of mercy had I shown those who needed it most. Most easily did I dispense mercy and forgiveness to the suffering sheep who looked the part – wounded and in pain, but for those who looked more wolf than sheep, I unsheathed a sword of a totally different kind.
Yet, I realize now that it is these who need my willful mercy. These wolf-sheep, with the snarling and feral demeanour that hides the wounded and bleeding sheep within them. Whose plaintive bleat for help is papered over by polished confidence, arrogance and sometimes, outright cruelty towards others.
Wolf-sheep don’t invite our mercy easily. If anything, we feel mercy should be extended to us, not them, because it is we who suffer from their bites. But nowhere in the Golden Book are we allowed the comfort of retreating from the call to love just because we have been hurt.
32 If you love those who love you, what credit can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. ~ Luke 6: 32
For every hurt endured, Christ suffered each one first. Long before I ever knew grief, He carried the wounds of every soul to the point of death on the sacred Cross. To give me a Light so pure and bright that I cannot evade but follow.
I must go where I do not wish. To love the sheep that wear the coat of wolves.