‘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 did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ – Matthew 25:34-39
‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of one of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
– Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew 25:40
Everyone Jesus mentions in this parable is in a very vulnerable situation. On the surface it sounds like there is a group of people who are lacking something critical; they are in need of the very basics of life. But actually, there is more. The group of people named as “blessed” or “righteous”, are also in need of something critical: their inheritance in the kingdom of God. The need from both groups is mutual and when the two come together, it is life changing. There is a caveat: they have to come together to recognize it.
The “righteous” are named and invited to come for the blessing, an inheritance waiting for them. Others in the parable are weighed down by the difficulties of life. All stand in need of what the Father offers: the kingdom of God. And where the kingdom of God is present, there is sustenance for abundant life: food and drink; the hospitality and welcome of another; clothing to cover us in the most vulnerable of moments, care of the body, care of the spirit.
These are not things you buy at the grocery store or manufacture in a factory. These are human needs that require the eyes and spirit of another human to see and touch. The situations named are not projects to begin and end, nor are they to rewards and accolades to seek. These are places of vulnerability where our deepest human needs are met by the love and presence of another. And where the presence of the other opens us to the kingdom of God. This is where Jesus is spending his time and love. This is where the Spirit equips us to serve one another. Whether giving or receiving; it is the shared need that helps us experience the Holy that transforms our lives.
Have you found yourself missing the presence of God lately? In the full parable (read it here: https://bit.ly/39RYZUn ) neither the righteous nor the unrighteous recognize the moments where Jesus is present. Neither the righteous nor the unrighteous seem to know that their encounter with another person was actually a pathway into the kingdom of God.
The longing to experience God is real and it is a yearning we all share. When we are hungry, that yearning may be first expressed by a need for food. When we are well fed, that yearning is for a much deeper need that feeds our spirits and redeems our lives. In either case – and in many unnamed here, Christ meets us and offers what is needed.
COVID19 has disrupted human interactions all over the world. Racial unrest is peeling back the layers of our shared history and revealing more to us about our lives together than we have known. Our economic challenges stretch us to share what we have with many whose work has decreased or even disappeared. Still, the resurrected Christ continues to show up and offer each of us the grace, mercy and love we need in our journey of becoming whole. The presence of Christ persists.
Where are you encountering Jesus in the situations you experience? Sometimes life is so beautiful it’s hard to know who is giving and who is receiving. I pray God gives you that glimpse of the kingdom today.
A parable gives us something to ponder. A deep truth rests way the below the surface. It is available when we dive in for it. It is rarely found when we remain on the surface. Keeping everything safe and at a distance will often hold wisdom and freedom far away as well. When we find ourselves longing for something that has more meaning; another way to see this life, it may be an invitation to go a little deeper. You may find the resurrected Christ there waiting for you. It’s safe for diving.
Oceans by Hillsong
Holy God open our eyes to your presence with us and in us today. We love you Lord and we trust you completely. In your presence there is fullness of joy! Amen.