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Lent - Day 13

Day 13 Friday


That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


Matthew 25: 14-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who 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 drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


This is the final parable recorded from Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. As such, it has a sense of being climactic, of being the last word on the measure of our discipleship. For that reason, this is one of the most terrifying teachings of Jesus!
The force of the parable is to conclude that the basis for our final judgment will not be our worship, faith or theology. It will be our compassion, or lack of it, toward the least of the least. The parable is meant to shock us.  
It calls us to identify which side we are on in the drama of Jesus. Are we the goats or the sheep? Our choice is made through our action or nonaction toward the least of the least. Nonaction occurs through drift, inattention and blindness. We may not even know we have slipped into the goat category! Action occurs through intention, awareness and sacrifice. We don’t become sheep by accident, heritage or general agreement with the mission. We have to act. 
To hear Jesus’ teaching, it is particularly important not to take cover too quickly in the theology of “It’s grace not works!” This day, with this Scripture before us, we are asked to sit with Jesus’ words as if they were the only thing he ever said. As if they were the last thing he wanted us to remember. And then see to what the Spirit calls us through them.


How often I have said, “Lord, when did I see you hungry?”
For I looked upon hungry children and thought
“Those people! Their parents ought to get a job.”
I seldom thought of the imprisoned, except to wish their population would increase. When I did, I thought, “They deserve it. If you don’t want the time, don’t do the crime.”
I have ignored, shut out or feared strangers.
They are not one of us. They do not belong here.
I am embarrassed about the naked:
People who do not hide their neediness,
They are just raw want, obvious problems, whiners.
Like people with no clothes, they are without covering.
Without covering of friendships. Or connections.
Or influence.
They may be contagious. 
Being with the naked could make me seem that apparent, that needy, that much of a drain.
I never saw you when I tried not to see them.
Yet there you were.
All the time.
Waiting for me.
I of such great faith. I who sing hymns loudly.
I who read your Word and proclaim your name.
I totally missed you.
O forgive me.
Make me more concerned to be compassionate than correct
To stink of bodies embraced than clean with isolation of the least neglected.
I yet breathe, say it is not too late!
I yet have some strength, some choice,
O let me find you in your poor.
You are here, not where I want to look, 
But where you say you are.
I will go to you today.
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).


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