Monday 22 February 2010

Bible Book:

"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." (v.35-36)

Matthew 25:31-46 Monday 22 February 2010


This vivid imaginative story has been crafted in the lightof Daniel 7:13-14. Implicitly the story has Jesus(the Son of Man) in the role of heavenly judge on the last day. Tohim all human beings must give account. (That is an astonishing,not to say mind-blowing leap of faith and hope, whether the storycomes from Jesus himself or was developed in the first generationof the Christian movement.)

But the heart of the story is about human behaviour. Jesus statesthe ultimate criterion for behaving well towards one another. Thatcriterion applies always and everywhere, and to everyone withoutexception.

The assumption is that everyone (Christian or not) knows theirresponsibility to the poor and vulnerable. In one form or another,in religious traditions, in widespread proverbial wisdom, throughlocal cultures and customs, we all know what's expected of us. (Togive but one instance: the general moral themes in the story arefound regularly in the Old Testament. Read Psalm146.)

The surprise for non-Christians is that - without their knowing it- they have served no less than Jesus, the judge of all, wheneverthey have done something useful for the poor.

For disciples of Jesus however, there are no surprises. Nor anyexcuses. Jesus modelled the values and hands-on actions which mustbe imitated and repeated by his disciples. So Christians know onwhat basis they will be judged. It's not enough to give money tocharities working for the disadvantaged (though generosity is awonderful virtue). What counts is practical, person-to-personservice of the poor, at a cost to themselves. To the hungry, thedestitute, the sick, the lonely and confused, those in prison - ontheir doorsteps, in their neighbourhood, among their extendedfamily members.

To Ponder

Why is it often easier to see human needs inother parts of the world than close at hand?

How do we prevent our service of the poorbecoming an interference in other people's chosen lifestyle, orsomething which patronises the poor?

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