Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)
Today we see the hospitality of Abraham combined with the witness of Isaiah. Abraham and Sarah provide extravagant hospitality to the three strangers that come to their home in which we earlier spoke as the rationale for the disciples only going to Jewish homes.
We see this in our sharing with the hungry, the thirsty and the stranger.
Isaiah speaks of how we will provide freedom to the prisoner in 61:1:
Jesus combines these identities of hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, sick and imprisoned into characteristics of how we are to distinguish our walk with God. The poor and the oppressed almost become incarnational for Jesus as we equate the two. Matthew does something similar with children in 18:5 when he states, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (NRSV) Of course, children were socially invisible in this day.
What if we replaced the portraits of Jesus
in our churches with pictures like this?
I think this reminds us of our human nature that categorizes so readily. These are not the people of distinction. They are not those we would normally trust to improve our social standing. They are not elevating us among our peers. By relating to them Christologically, we begin to look at them with greater value. We see them as God sees them.
We continue to need this passage today. Our world still values people differently. We pretend that all are equal under the law but the power of economics elevates some as more equal than others.
We still need to be reminded to hold some people with respect and dignity.
Jesus knew it was a problem then and still knows we struggle with it today. This is why the passage remains so relevant for us.
What if we really begin to see these not as nuisances in our way or as problems to solve but rather as people whose lives have turned in a direction that is less than ideal? What if we took this a step further and looked at them through the lens of this passage?
What if the least of these became the greatest of these?
What if the last became first?
Prayer for the day:
God, today we pray for:
May our future encounters with them hold them in high esteem. May this be because you have reminded us that we are really encountering our Lord. Amen.
Photo by flightlog via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.