Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
Sin is going to happen; none of us as are wholly free, in this life, from its influence. How much of a stranglehold it has on us, however, depends on how much influence we permit Christ to have in our lives, over and above sin. Yet before we look at that Jesus asks us to look elsewhere: at the other.
There is a familiar mantra among many Christians: Jesus is my personal Lord and savior. This is true, but it often fosters this idea that my salvation is all about me, that it is every Christian for his or herself. Today’s Gospel tells us that this is not at all true; we have a role to play in the salvation—or damnation—of others, and woe to those who choose the latter role.
Jesus Christ is for us, not merely in a sense of being for us rather than against us, but He is given for us, a gift and sacrifice. Being Christians, members of His Body, we too are for others. We ought to be just as concerned—out of love—for our neighbor’s spiritual well-being as we are for ours, assisting Christ in the redemption of each soul and, in so doing, we likewise are being redeemed. St. James tells us in his letter that, “…he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)
When we show our neighbor the same love that Christ has shown us (John 13:34), when we reverence Christ in the other, we are preparing to receive Him at all times and in all places. If we cannot see Christ, if we cannot love Him, as He is found and hidden in the other, how can we hope to find Him hidden in the mystery of the Eucharist?
Let us therefore do all we can to foster the eternal life of all we meet, loving our neighbor by edifying them with encouragement, kindness and saying to all “…only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear… and be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” (Eph. 4:29, 32)