Matthew 25:41-46: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Do you see them? The homeless, I mean. We hear in the news that they leave garbage and human waste on the streets of L.A. and San Francisco. But do we really see THEM? How about the family that lost their home and are living in a car? Surely, there must be a story behind that family. Yes, there is a good chance that they made some terrible mistakes along the way, and that is why they are homeless. Only, I don’t see Jesus making an exception for those who burned their bridges and have nowhere to go as a result.
How about the man or woman in prison? Jesus doesn’t say they have to be in prison unfairly. It didn’t seem to bother Jesus that the thief on the cross was getting what his deeds deserved, by his own admission. He only saw someone to love and to gather into his kingdom. I admire St. Paul’s Lutheran in New Ulm, which has initiated a program for members to mentor people who are recently released from the county jail.
I have to admit that this parable that Jesus told gives me heartburn. Yes, I have visited the sick. And people in prison. And I’ve bought a meal or two for people who were hungry. But how many more people have I overlooked? Besides reaching out to people with the gospel, I cannot think of a more Christ-like thing to do than to help the hurting, the lonely, the hungry. Will you open your eyes tomorrow and look for the people that Jesus set before us today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for eyes that don’t see, for a heart that doesn’t care, for hands that don’t feed, and for a mouth that doesn’t speak words of comfort. I do believe. Help me to overcome the selfishness of my sinful nature so that I might reflect your mercy to the hurting around me. Amen.