The Daily Office | February 17, 2018
Psalms 86, 87, 88
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Matthew passage can always make us a little nervous. We may ask ourselves, “Am I doing enough, giving enough, serving enough to the poor and the outcast? Will I be a goat or a sheep on the last day?”
But I think to do that is to miss the point of the Scripture and to turn in on ourselves. In both cases, Jesus addresses people who are surprised to hear that they were feeding, clothing, and visiting him. The unrighteous didn’t do it because they didn’t see Christ and the righteous did it, not knowing that they served Jesus himself.
We will not be saved by our works. Paul writes in Ephesians that “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” However, as people saved by grace, we are made new, and conform our lives to the image of Christ.
And Jesus is God, who took on human flesh, to rescue us from our sins. Jesus is the one who came to us when we were naked in our shame, starving for the bread of life, and imprisoned by our sin, to rescue us.
In our new identity, we act out of our freedom in Christ. We serve those who are far off, vulnerable, cast off from society not because we need to get a punch card for our ticket to heaven, but because, in Christ, we are bringing his kingdom here to earth.
So today, let us see Christ in those around us and serve them with the reckless love and mercy that Christ has shown us. Let us go to our neighbor whom God has given us, asking, “How may I serve you, just as Jesus has served me?”