"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."My world has been a little bit rocked this year to say the least by this passage and by a series of events that I'll save for another blog entry. How is it that I've never really fully realized just how seriously God takes caring for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the prisoner? Add to that all the references in the Old Testament about caring for the orphan, the widow and the oppressed and it becomes obvious that "the least of these" are exactly who He loves deeply. It all seems to come back to this theme of love. God's love for me, my love for God and my love for others - especially "the least of these".
Although I have read Matthew 25 many times, I am really just beginning to get the impact of what Jesus is saying. He's saying that when I feed the hungry, give clothes to those who need them, give the thirsty a drink, invite a stranger in or visit those in prison that I am doing that TO Him - I'm giving Jesus a meal and a drink or inviting Him in for a visit. The opposite is true as well...when I don't feed the hungry it's as if I'm not feeding Jesus. Can you imagine walking down the street and seeing the God of the Universe sitting on the corner begging for money so He could buy food and ignoring Him?? No way! I'd be falling all over myself trying to get Him whatever He needed. But the sad reality is that when I ignore the hungry stranger on the corner who makes me uncomfortable I am ignoring Jesus in disguise.
I know that for years now I have lived in my own little comfortable bubble thinking that I was loving God - and I was, but not completely. Somehow I managed to miss this gigantic piece of His heart - His all out love and compassion for the poor, the lonely, the broken-hearted, the sick, the hungry, the orphan. How did I miss this??? Because it was easier to ignore those things that overwhelmed me if I gave them too much thought. Scratch that. Because I am self-absorbed. And because I thought someone else would care for them. Someone else would go and do it. After all, what do I know about the poor? What do I know about children halfway around the world who have been tragically left alone to care for their siblings because their parents are dead from AIDS? How could I possibly help them? Yes, someone else will have to do it. Now I know...that someone else is me. And it's you.
So, I think we have a lot to talk about.