Looking closely at the parable of the Last Judgment we may find it not only challenging but disconcerting.  There can be no question about the importance of this parable. In it Christ speaks of the supreme moment, a moment of being called or being rejected.   (Mt. 31-46)

The hearers express surprise because the measurements of salvation are not what one might expect.  They are not things we think of as being religious practices.  When they ask: when, where, how, Jesus replies: “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” Everyone will be judged by what they have done or failed to do for others. Thus the parable can be understood as illustrating what the commandment of love of neighbor involves.

In reflecting on this parable, we need to ask ourselves: how can I love my neighbor in the ways suggested by the parable.   Like much in the Bible the parable is not to be understood in a strict literal sense.   When have I literally fed the hungry or given drink to the thirsty?  Is volunteering a few hours at a soup kitchen enough?  When have I clothed the naked?  Is donating used clothing to Good Will enough?  I may have visited a sick friend but when have I visited those in prison?

We need to ask ourselves: who are those “least”?  Some commentators suggest they are the poor and distressed the powerless and the needy. But that remains general and vague as an answer.  It does not concretely identify the least in my life.

It can help to rephrase the question.  Am I sensitive to the ways the “least” come into my life?  Sometimes that least person may be a neighbor or a member of my parish community that I find difficult.  It might be an in-law or even a family member. Do I reach out and give the warmth and clothing of comfort and support to those experiencing hardship or adversity in their life? Do I give of my time and of myself to feed those in the circle of my companions and acquaintances who are hungry and thirsty in heart?

Do I make the sometimes difficult effort to visit those imprisoned by age and infirmity?
The list could be extended.  The important thing is to realize there are many ways in which we show our love of neighbor.