Whatever You Do for the Least
Throughout his life Jesus was constantly drawing attention to people that we avert our attention from. He was constantly placing the poor and the marginalized of every type at the center of the Gospel narrative. Placing them in clear view where we could not miss them without also missing His central message.
Today’s difficult teaching is the longest I have selected. While it could be reduced to a single verse, I feel compelled to include the entire parable.
It is from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, verses 31-46.
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of 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 drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, 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 no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The message is clear. Whatever you do for the least. There are times when we avoid the least among us, times when we begrudgingly attend to their needs, times when we judge and resent them, and times when we are so caught up in ourselves that we don’t even notice them. In none of these instances are we the-best-version-of-ourselves. When we are at our best, we don’t just tend to them as they cross our paths, we lovingly seek them out.
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