Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me.” After saying this Christ goes on to clearly state that Heaven or Hell awaits us because of how we treat others. These lines are a clarion call to how we must relate to others, an example and a warning.
How should we respond? Do we need to emulate St. Theresa of Calcutta and go to the slums and provide care to the sick and dying of the streets? Do we need to volunteer at Hospices, Nursing Homes and Prisons? If in prayer you feel called to do these ministries then go, but I have some suggestions that are closer to home.
As I write this we are in the midst of the Easter Triduum. Today after the Morning Prayer Service, I, like many of my neighbors, headed to the grocery store to get last minute items for the holiday meal. The store was swamped. After selecting the goods I decided to head to one of the self-checkout lanes. There are six scanners available for use and only one clerk assigned to help customers. It was obvious she was having a bad morning. The scanners kept freezing requiring her to punch in a code or something so each shopper could continue to process their order. One shopper was in a bad mood and complaining about the scanner, complaining about the store not having enough of an item on special and generally just complaining. My scanner gave me grief and I tried as quietly as possible to get the clerk’s attention, she did not need me adding to her grief.
I have worked for the Public briefly in my career and quickly decided I needed to do something else. I know the customer is NOT always right! My mother worked for the Public for much of her life and raised me to be patient with waitresses, store clerks, etc. when shopping. She did this out of empathy learned the hard way. She taught me to do so and now I understand that being patient with a harried clerk is what Christ wants me to do.
We can do unto others at the grocery store, a busy restaurant or any other place we encounter a person having a bad day. It may be a clerk or a fellow patron. Especially if we do not feel like being patient and kind we should make all the more effort to do so.
Love is a choice we make to do or not do something. It is not a feeling. In the hectic holiday shopping our feelings may be of frustration, impatience, nervousness or anger. That’s being Human. How we react is still our choice. Putting aside our feelings and saying a kind word to another person who is feeling the same anxieties, trying to give them a brief bright spot in a difficult day, that is what all Christians are called to do.