Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Reflection From the beginning Matthew’s gospel proclaims, God is with us, among us. Which begs the question, “How do we experience God with us?” Jesus minces no words in his parable. We experience God with us when we recognize our neighbors need and respond.
Two things are required to experience God, recognition and response. We recognize hunger and we feed, we recognize thirst and we give drink, we recognize the stranger and welcome them, we recognize the naked and give them clothes, we recognize the sick and give them comfort, we recognize the imprisioned and give them companionship. As we offer blessing to our neighbors in need we experience God’s blessing, God with us.
Here is the twist. We need the people who need us more than they need us. We need the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisioned because without them we do not have the opportunity to recognize their need and respond with blessing. Without people who need us we miss our opportunity to be counted among the God's sheep. Without the opportunity to serve the least among us we miss out on God’s blessing, we lose our place in the kingdom of God, we do not experience God with us.
It is interesting, nowhere in Jesus’ teaching do we hear, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you…” for you crossed all your tees, dotted all your eyes, followed all the rules. Nowhere do we hear Jesus say, Blessed are you who are wildly successful, have prepared a royal festival, rich with gold and incense and elaborate prayers to welcome kings and priests and holy people. Instead we hear, blessed are you who are moved to extend God’s Spirit of compassion to those in need. For in tending to your relationship with those in need you are indeed tending to your relationship with God.
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