Whatever you have done to the very least of my brothers, you have done to me.
“I would like charity to be forever the queen of my heart."
"Charity toward one's neighbor.... shown to every individual...."
Let us pray to God that he bless the means we use, that we never become discouraged because of the difficulties encountered in carrying them out. Sometimes, when we are engaged in these holy pursuits, we are called upon to suffer something; but all will be softened by the holy faith that we profess. If someone wishes to crack a nut, using his teeth, he is not concerned with the pain that he might experience, because he is thinking of the delicious kernel that he will soon feast upon. This anxiety alone makes him satisfied and he does not in the least complain. Let us make an adaptation of this to spiritual things and we will profit from it. Jesus recognizes as done to himself whatever is done to the poor, the object of his love. In fact, on judgment day, he will ask us whether we gave him something to drink when he was thirsty, something to eat when he was hungry etc. and all the rest that is recorded in the holy Gospel. This should serve as a comfort in the exercise of our good works. God keeps an account of everything; now is the time for planting, in spite of any inclemency in the weather or so many other deterrents. In short, the time will soon come for the harvest which we will present to the master of the vineyard so that he can bless us for all eternity.
Who is the least among us? Do we have anyone in our family who is hungry for respect? Is our co-worker thirsty for understanding or acceptance? Is there a neighbor stripped of friendship or family or who is imprisoned by ignorance or past wounds? Have we learned how to recognize the face of Jesus in our neighborhood, or do we react with judgment, dismiss with anger or ignore with disdain?
The “least” may include ourselves. There may be preciousness in us that we have failed to recognize or honor. What thirst or hunger in us have we covered over or ignored? It is possible to reject the Christ in oneself also.
God has come to us to live in our midst. He came to his own and his own received him not. He has given us a clear picture of where we might find him. Somehow the expectation remains that we discover him in the successful, the powerful or otherwise “blessed” people of this world. Yet he who left everything to be with us still beckons us to search his wounds and find him in the midst of our own poverty and humility.
We cannot say that there are no poor among us. They may be in our own home and they even may be ourselves. Nor can we ignore the materially poor or simply instruct them to get a job or judge that it is their own fault. There are many in our neighborhood who have limited resources, have no insurance, and who live one paycheck away from homelessness. These many could be us if we had succumbed to the many traumas this world provides. A cynical, judgmental attitude simply does not find its home in the gospel. Only the vulnerability of self gift and generosity find their reflection in the face of Jesus.
The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. This is central to our identity as Christians. Flesh has been raised to an incomparable dignity, and blood is precious. How we behave toward the flesh and blood around us is how we behave toward the Lord himself.
The Lord is directing us to more than isolated acts of almsgiving, but is ordering us to a way of life that is directed toward others and lived for others. Our love for God must take concrete, tangible form. For St. Gaspar this attention to others finds expression in several of his letters. Regardless of trials in his life he was determined to make charity forever the queen of his heart. This charity was to be shown to everyone, without exception.
- What are some of the ways I might address the thirst of this world?
- Why are independence and self-reliance important values for me?
- What act of helpfulness, kindness or charity must I do today?
 (to Fr. Pietro Butti June 8, 1826, letter 1436 Resources 11, pg. 4)
 to Fr. A. Pascucci January 1827, letter 1555 Resources 11, pg. 4
 Letter 50, February-April, 1813, to Countess Lucrezia Ginnasi