By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46
31 “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. 32 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, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 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; 35 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, 36 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.’ 37 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? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 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.’ 41 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; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 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.’ 44 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?’ 45 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.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
We’ve all been there. They come early in the morning. Each has a lunch bag, a sign, and often a collapsible chair. The sign reads something like this: “Help, I’m hungry; so are my kids. I’ll wash your windows. Please give me something to eat.” As soon as the traffic light turns red, they get up out of their chairs, walking car to car asking for a handout.
Meanwhile inside the car, the driver fidgets, looks at his watch, changes the radio, rolls up the window or digs into his car for some change. Welcome to the 21st century version of Matthew 25:31-46.
There are lots of excuses to drive on by the man or woman at the intersection. “I am busy and the queue is long and I am late… They should get a real job… They will just buy drugs.” We all have turned the other way. Me too. As we drive away sometimes, some of us are ashamed, but quickly we are distracted, and the one in the chair holding a sign is soon forgotten.
But Christ remembers, sitting on his throne. It may very well be the man with his sign could actually get a “real” job, and could care for his family. But it may also very well be that he is poor or disabled or an addict, and very much needs assistance. We can give a little, or even a bit more. We can donate to or volunteer at a local homeless shelter or other service for the struggling. This parable is about changing how we respond to the man at the stoplight and many like him. The world is often cold and dark. Do we make it warmer and brighter for those we can? This parable tells us what Christ expects us to do: feed, clothe, house, or just pay attention to another person beloved by our savior.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest of the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for thirty years and reside on the Front Range with their granddaughter.
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