How do I see Jesus in my "undeserving" neighbor? Mat 25:31-46


I was at mass today and we read Mat 25:31-46.
The priest talked about seeing Jesus in our neighbor, and quoted
“In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

He made it sound as if anyone, no matter how guilty or innocent, was Jesus’s brother.
This also seems to be Mother’s Theresa’s spirituality:

I noticed that my compassion for someone depends on how innocent I believe he is. It’s easier for me to find Jesus in a Somalian starving child than in a North-American adult who is suffering the consequences of his own choices (such as obesity or STD). In the the latter case, thoughts such as “he asked for it” makes it hard for me to have compassion for him. I know God the son commanded us not to judge, but this is the way my heart works.

Am I supposed to have the same compassion for someone who (I believe although it’s not for me to judge) has brought upon himself his own suffering than for innocent suffering such as child hunger or cancer?

How do I find Jesus in someone I think is guilty and/ or responsible for his problems? How can I have for such a person the same loving kindness I can have for a suffering child or even for a wounded puppy?


The examples you might call undeserving are most deserving.

The term Christian means Christ-like.

Our Baptismal promise is to act like Christ.

And see luke 19:10** For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”


When you divide people into deserving and undeserving you are judging, Jesus warned us not to do this. Think of all your sins, were they justified, are you a deserving sinner?

Jesus also asks us to love and forgive our enemies. Who is less deserving than our enemies; people who actively hate and want to hurt us?


The people we see that we have difficulty feeling kindness for are still on this planet, and therefore have time to change. For the love of our Lord Jesus Christ we can be kindly toward them even if we do not feel good about it. We need to learn to love them with the mind of Christ. This can help them to be aware that God loves them.


As others here have said, if you deny compassion, you judge. Christ said we must not judge. This is a deeply hard teaching to follow, one of the hardest in my opinion, because it requires us to completely break down our barriers and turn away from our egos. As horrible as another human being is, weather he or she is a serial killer, a child abuser, or a rapist, we must recognize his or her humanity, we must remember that at one time this person was a child, that even if they are neurologically wired differently from us, they are not monsters, but sick individuals who need help.
Part of the reason the reality of evil is so hard to accept for us is that it implies humans are not perfect, they fall, and some fall far below the rest of us, to the point where they are almost unrecognizable as humans. But they are. When we say it is wrong to judge, this does not mean we do not address these individuals. It does not mean we have no right to apprehend and incarcerate them for their crimes. But in doing so, we have no right to deny them the chance of repentance. We have no right to deny them the chance of medical assistance if it is possible.
Judgement is wrong because it is a knee jerk reaction to our fragility. We recognize in the worst individuals our own faults brought to their logical extremes, we recognize our failure in our ability to help these individuals when help is still possible. We recognize that born in the same circumstances, subjected to the same abuse, afflicted with the same ailments, we would be no different from them. We might even be worse. Judgement is a lie of the ego. We turn away from this truth about our flaws and puff ourselves up above these individuals to protect ourselves from confronting these faults. Compassion allows us to humble ourselves and admit our fragility. In doing so, we are able to give thanks to our circumstances, we are able to recognize our small flaws when magnified by the bigger flaws of these individuals, and are therefore able to grow in our confrontation with these flaws. With growth comes knowledge, with knowledge comes the ability to help these individuals. Christ is the logos made flesh, he is present in these individuals no matter how hard they fall, because he is present in them long before they do. With compassion, growth, and knowledge, we can recognize this.


You pray. You pray the Holy Spirit removes the human scales from your eyes so that you see Jesus in others. All are children of God and for you to be compassionate to everyone allows them to see Jesus in you. And you never know when one kind or merciful word from you may bring that person to Jesus. This is a prayer of mine to the Holy Spirit everyday, everyday because i feel i fail at it more than not.


Thanks dee burk, that’s helpful, I’ll pray!


So the soldiers were in the process of nailing Christ to the cross. Objectively they were in the process of killing him, which they knew full well; because they had judged Him a certain way. They did not wait for proof of His guilt or innocence, they were doing this with full knowledge & consent. And Jesus said ‘Father forgive them, for they know NOT what they are doing’. However, according to them & everyone else, they knew exactly what they were doing…


I prayed God to help me see people the way he sees him

I just came back from the post office. on my way to and from I looked at each person I saw telling myself “God the son layed down his life for this fellow”.
I usually have a hard time with eye-contact but this made it very interesting to look at people’s faces.

Such a wonderful walk when all you meet are people God the son loves so much he died for them.


Amen! What you said is so inspiring!




Actually, if we consider the historical context, the soldiers were not necessarily acting with full will and consent. What might you imagine would be the punishment for a Roman soldier refusing to carry out an order? It is a big assumption to think that they crucified him with full knowledge and consent.

The same applies when we categorize people as deserving or undeserving. We can only see from the outside and there are pressures and mitigating circumstances in people’s lives that we have no access to. Those can often be very hard to imagine for a person who is living comfortably.That is one of the main reason’s we should not judge - only God knows the whole story.


As far as, “How do I see Jesus in my “undeserving” neighbor?”

Did Jesus say ANYTHING about seeing Him in others?


What He said was, what you do or not do to others is the same as doing or not doing for Jesus, didn’t He?

It can be as SIMPLE as, if Jesus did not do what He did for ALL, than what He did was for NONE.

If one is “looking” for someone who is guilty than one need look no farther than the mirror.


From the Perfect Joy of St. Francis:

With those harsh words the door is slammed in their faces and they are left to consider, with the cold night air creeping into their bones, the hard journey to the next place where they may be able to find shelter and warmth.

Francis then says: . . . if we endure all those insults and cruelties and rebuffs patiently and without being ruffled or murmuring at him; and we humbly and charitably think that this porter really knows us but that God is having him talk up to us that way: Oh, brother Leo, write that there is perfect joy in that!

Francis focuses on both the situation and on himself - rather than on the porter and his supposed failings. We cannot always control the circumstances around us, however, we can control (with God’s help) what happens within us - how we respond to a bad situation. Francis’ focus is on ENDURING. It is clear that Francis knows what has been thrown at him: insults, cruelty’s and rebuffs. Even if Francis earned the insults, deserved the cruelties and therefore should expect the rebuffs - they were still uncharitable and harsh. Though a sinner he was still, after all, God’s child!


Even your undeserving neighbor is made in God’s image, that is, with an intellect and a will like God has. God bless you.


In your op you said “but this is the way my heart works.” I would offer that this is the way your mind works not your heart. The mind gets clouded with all sorts of beliefs such as judgments and prejudgments. I suppose thinking of someone as deserving or undeserving is one of these judgments. Try looking in the mirror(so to speak) as one poster offered. This is how I deal with such matters- when I view someone as lazy, greedy, unconscious, etc. I try to remove the log from my eye and see how I’m probably those exact things in different ways. This helps me to let go of my anger or agitation towards certain people (mostly family). It really helps to look at things from a different perspective. Blessings to you and yours.


It to me seems that you have judged already. Tossed that first stone and condemn them as well. Very hypocritical but honest. If you see your Faith with Love you will see love in even a brother that you don’t consider worthy. If you love Christ then when you see your brothers more respectfully and lovingly. For Christ is all Love and we should see that love in others. Those who do physical and mental harm may be harder to do but with love you can love them by not wishing them any harm or malice.


So, the deadbeat neighbors that used to live next door to me who ran off their father who bought the house, turned it into something that would embarrass Sanford and Son, whose deadbeat friends would hang out with and whose deadbeat buddy stole my weedeater, gas can and blower out of my shed, and who bummed money from my mom to buy beer and whisky to drink themselves into the filthy stupor that was their every day life, are my deserving neighbor? By not supporting them in their filthy lifestyle I was not supporting Christ?


sounds like a straw horse I read about just recently. We are to see Christ in all. Even in these people you hate.


And where do I find Christ in a person who walked around in a drunken stupor, had a mouth like a Hong Kong sailor, who got arrested and spent time in jail for theft and lied and cheated every day of his life? How do I find Christ in that person? How far am I supposed to go to aid this person? Should the Catholic Church behind us not have called the police when his pit bulls would get loose and run around on the Church property? Was the Church wrong for not reimbursing him the $300 he spent to get his dogs back (yes, he went to the Church office and told them they owed him $300)? Should they have given him the money? Would Christ have given him the money? What would you have done?

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