How to Measure a Life

March 12, 2019

By Father Bill Malloy, Mercy Associate

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?”

Matthew 25:37-39

Art by Sister Renee Yann

There are many ways to measure the success of a life: length of days, the value of one’s investment portfolio, the summary of one’s academic or professional achievements. Perhaps these are the way the world evaluates a person’s accomplishments and honors them accordingly.

But God measures our lives by very different and far simpler criteria: how much we have loved and how well we have used the gifts we have been given.

In Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats, feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked and visiting the sick are of utmost importance. They are best accomplished as a matter of daily routine and without seeking reward.

Such are the moments of grace that don’t win medals or grab headlines. What’s the big deal about a kind word, or a knock on the door, or going out of your way, or listening patiently or treating someone with respect? The only reason for doing these things is a genuine concern for people in need.

Perhaps no one else will take note, but for Jesus, these acts of faith make all the difference. For Jesus, the true measure of life is not the critical but the casual moment, not the big but the little things.


Father Bill’s reflection is based on the scripture readings for Monday of the First Week of Lent and was adapted with permission from the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community’s Lenten 2019 Reflection Booklet.

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  1. Adele Dunnigan

    Thanks Bill for bringing to mind all the simple opportunities we have to serve others. In Gratitude Adele Dunnigan, Mercy Associate


  2. Donna

    Many believe that their accomplishments define who they are, but Jesus is our final destination. What really matters is Love.


  3. Quintero Rebecca

    Beautiful reflection, simple and to the point!
    Rebecca Quintero, Mercy Associate


  4. Mark M. Fitzpatrick

    Thank you Father Bill. I often see words to the effect that we, all of us, need to make this world a better place to live in. Doing the little things in life, being kind and courteous, offering a genuine smile or simply being a good listener for someone in need of a true friend – those are the gifts God would want us to share with our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. God Bless.