FAITH IN FOCUS: LOOKING THE OTHER WAY
You don’t get to heaven by not committing sin. You get to heaven only by doing good. Or, more correctly, you get to heaven by allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you in building up the kingdom of God.
Today’s gospel presents us with a challenging picture. If we never visit the sick, the homeless and those in prison then we show that we don’t care for Jesus. If we watch the TV images of people who are starving or who are victims of famine, flood and earthquake and then simply turn the channel over then we are turning our backs on Christ.
Traditional language used to speak about two types of sin: commission and omission. Commission is when we do something wrong. Omission is when we do something wrong by not doing anything. Yet today’s society makes it very easy for us to commit sins of omission without feeling guilty. When we see homeless people we can easily say that it is up to our government to sort the situation out. When we hear that our prisons are full to bursting it has become natural for us to think that someone else should be concerned with visiting the prisoners and with ensuring that their conditions are humane.
On a more local level we find ourselves turning a blind eye to things that happen on our own streets because we prefer a quiet life, despite the fact that people are suffering as a result. And in a recent report it was shown that people in Britain are the least likely in all of Europe to come to someone’s aid if they are experiencing difficulty on the street.
Jesus gives us a solemn warning. Whenever we fail to act to help those in any kind of need we fail to show our love for him, for the face of the person in distress is really the face of Christ. And the consequences of this failure and omission last well beyond our short lifespan. They are eternal.