Real Needs of Our Neighbors

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Bar Fabella SVD (Philippines)

This special one is known to the community as Bruno. Because he insists on getting what he asks for, he can be irritating.  Because as an orphan, he practically has no place to call home, he is pitiful. Sunday is his favorite day; it is the best time to see people in the Church from whom he asks either a tight hug or a piece of bread. He calls me “Lolo Father”.

Sadly, one day, he was caught stealing something from a student’s bag. The school’s prefect of discipline immediately drove him away, after a good scolding and threats of being reported to me or to the police. For months, he did not show up in the Church.

One Christmas, after baptism, I saw him near the Church door, again, begging for either a tight hug or a piece of bread. But when he saw me approaching, he sped away as fast as he could maybe out of fear that I would apprehend him.

My heart broke and felt guilty. Here I was, about to deliver my homily again on love of God and neighbor while someone who was clearly in need just ran away wanting to be out of my sight.

When we hear the parable in today’s Gospel, Matthew 25:31-46, what immediately comes to mind is the end time when we are judged by what we did during our lifetime. Will I be a sheep or a goat on judgement day?

But actually this parable is meant for us to reflect on the present, the here and now when we are confronted with real needs of our neighbor – the hungry, the homeless, those in thirst for love, the stranger looking for refuge, the naked and the imprisoned… the Brunos of our time.

Source – The WORD in Other Words, Bible Diary 2020

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