The Gospel reading for this week is very rich. It invites us to reflect on the difference between true love and its false imitation, between real Christianity and its fake lookalike. It encourages us to exercise ourselves in the care of all God’s children. It prompts us to reflect on all the different kinds of hunger there are in the world, and the very different kinds of feeding those various hungers require.
These are all good things to ponder, but there is still more to see. Here is one more thing.
Think about what it is for God himself to be incarnate. A human woman took the Lord to her breast and suckled him there. The apostle John reclined by the Lord and laid his head on the bosom of the Lord. A woman washed the Lord’s feet with her tears, and a woman rubbed his feet with lotion. How did those people get so lucky? Of all the millions and millions of God’s people, how can it be that so few touched God in the flesh, that only one woman anointed his feet? Wouldn’t you have liked to be among these very lucky people? In desperately sad and stricken moments, what wouldn’t you yourself have given to lay your weary head on the breast of your Lord?
It is good to have a God who enters human history, but anything in history is local, constrained in time and space, cut off from so many things that aren’t right here, right now. How can it be that only those few people, who were there with Jesus, in that place and at that time, had contact with the Lord flesh to flesh?
The answer to this question and the consolation the question seeks is in the Gospel reading: whatever you did to one of the least of my own, the Lord says, you did it to me.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University