One of the most famous parables of Jesus is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. If we were to feed Jesus today, how could we make a dent in global hunger? Why should we?
If we were to take to heart that Jesus is found in the hungry and the thirsty, just think how we could make a dent in global health.
Jesus begins the parable in Mathew 25 speaking about those who get to inherit life as pronounced by “the Son of Man,” which was code to the Jewish people for the one who would be their savior. So, the Son of Man turns to one group of people and tells them that they fed him when he was hungry, and they gave him something to drink when he was thirsty. When he was a stranger, they welcomed him; naked, they clothed him. When he was sick and in prison, they came and visited him.
Those people, though very happy to inherit the good life, were a little shocked and asked him, “When? When did we do any of those things to you? We can’t remember feeding you, clothing you, visiting you or giving you something to drink!”
Then, Jesus continued the story to tell them that the Son of Man said when they did any of those things to the least of his family members, they did it to him.
The moral of this earthly story with a deep and piercing meaning was that the way you get to inherit the good life with the savior of God is by caring for everyone around you. When you are caring for the stranger, the hungry, the naked, the imprisoned and the thirsty, then you are actually caring for those who represent the very heart of God.
When should we care for the hungry? Every day and every time we actually notice them.
Where are those in need? They are everywhere. They are your neighbors, co-workers and entire communities of people leaving their war-torn homes in search of those willing to welcome them.
Basically, Jesus is saying to care for everyone, but, in particular, for those who are on the edges and the ditches … those who desperately need what we can easily give.
What should we be doing? We should be listening, searching and educating ourselves, and not simply to meet the needs of those around us, but also to fight the injustices that are creating the need in the first place.
Why should we be caring for the least of us? Because they are representations of God. They are representations of the savior. Jesus is quite clear through the imagery of the parable that when we show selfless, sacrificial love to those most often forgotten, villainized and victimized, we love Jesus in a sacramental way. As we share the love, care, grace and, quite practically, the bread of Christ with the world, we ourselves find our inheritance.
The First become Last, and the Least become the One we love most.