Today's gospel is the passage from which is drawn the corporal works of mercy:
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
And we have the scene of judgement when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats.
Those who are saved discover to their surprise that
whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Those who are damned are horrified to discover
what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.
If you grew up Christian at all you know this story. So individually we put the money in our rice bowls, we give to charity, the food pantry, the clothing closet. These are all good, but that is only one aspect of our lives.
This is one of many areas where we can be very Christian as individuals, but when acting collectively we loose our Christianity. Are we as charitable in the public policy we support? Do we think we can hide in a group? Do we think that when we are acting collectively there is no personal responsibility?
It is well and good for me to tell the young pregnant single girl not to have the abortion. But what sense does it make for me to then tell my state and federal legislator to cut off all assistance to her and the baby? One of the saddest things I do as a priest is go to baptize the premature baby, dying because of something that could have been prevented if the mother had had proper prenatal care.
We cannot compartment our lives. The same principles must apply to my life as an individual and my life as a citizen of my city,state, and nation. In the end God will judge the totality of my life, and yours.
Does it cost to be Christian? You betcha. It's why the word sacrifice is so central to our faith, the sacrifice of Christ, and our call to imitate it.