November 21, 1999
When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, "My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me."
The the ones who please the Lord will ask, "When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?"
The king will answer, "Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me."
Then the king will say to those on his left, "Get away from me! You are under God's curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me."
Then the people will ask, "Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?"
The king will say to them, "Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me."
Then Jesus said, "Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life." [CEV]
1. This is a reflection of the importance of two related concepts: the mystical prophet and Christian intuition. Caring for "the least" or "the unimportant" gives helpful perspective to what it means to participate in the great reversal Jesus brings -- the last shall be first.
2. Active helpfulness vs. blind indifference is one choice that goes on forever within our lives. To be alert brings with it the need for follow-through. Many are able to see difficulties, fewer are able to attempt to do something about it. May your helpfulness quotient be high this week.
3. Stocking food pantries and clothes closets does not do away with structural hunger that is built into our cultural norms. But it is important and may lead one to also become politically active in a direction to make needed changes (the assumption here is that we are all politically active and what appears to be political inaction is activity in favor of what is going on). Visiting the sick doesn't bring cures and visiting the imprisoned doesn't bring release. But this are important spiritual disciplines and may lead one to greater compassion and participation in all of the rest of life and death and resurrection and eternity. Out of simple acts we practice the presence of GOD.
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