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When Did We See You?

"Jesus the Homeless" A replica of the statue by Timothy Schmalz’, given to the Primate by Andy Seal of Augsburg Fortress, at the CoGS meeting

“Jesus the Homeless” A replica of the statue by Timothy Schmalz’, given to the Primate by Andy Seal of Augsburg Fortress, at the CoGS meeting

At a recent church meeting, we heard the reading of Matthew 25:31-46 and were invited to reflect upon it. A collection of verses (35-40,42-45) resonated in my heart and mind:

… 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 was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 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.”

… for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 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.” 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?” 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.”

This portion has stayed with me, as it puts the onus on the disciples. What they did or did not do for the least of God’s children, they have done/not done to God. It is a blunt articulation of responsibility, of duty to God through the world.

This responsibility, I dare say, also applies to the disciples today: to each and every one of us who struggle to be a faithful Christian, living out our baptismal vows.

The onus is on us to make a difference. But in order to do that, we must first open our eyes.

When the disciples ask “When did we see you…”, they definitively articulate one of the challenges we all face. It’s not that the needs are hidden, it’s not that the needs are missing; rather it is that sometimes (by omission and commission), we do not see them.

We choose not to see those who are lonely, imagining that they choose to be solitary.

We choose not to see the hunger in the disruptive child in the classroom, blaming bad parenting or acronymic diagnoses.

We choose not to see the human-ness in the shape on the park bench, refusing to acknowledge the body huddled under the blanket.

“When did we not see?” the disciples asked then. “When do WE not see?” we might ask ourselves now. And we must challenge ourselves and question our own biases to wonder why we did/do not see.

The needs are there. The children of God are there. They are the hungry, the homeless, the hurting, the lonely: they are there. They are children of God. They are loved. They are important.

And it’s up to us to see them: to recognize the beauty in their presence, the grace in their persons, the opportunities in their situations.

Open our eyes, O God, that we may see: and that when we see, we may lovingly engage. Open our eyes that we will see you in the faces in front of us.

About Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I'm a high-energy priest, now serving in the Diocese of Niagara, catching glimpses of the kingdom in daily life. I consider church to be a verb, and I'm passionate about prayer, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee. http://everydaychristianityblog.blogspot.ca
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5 Responses to When Did We See You?

  1. Everything that you say about caring for those in need and being hospitable to all is true but I think that one could use better passages then this one when talking about meeting the needs of the world in general like the parable of the good Samaritan. But this passage seems to deal with meeting the needs of the brothers and sisters in Christ,”..as you did it to one of the least of these ‘my brothers’,you did it to me. Not all people in the world are in the family of God but we are to meet and administer aid and comfort for all people. Just a thought.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tony!
      A few responsive thoughts… firstly, I agree that there are many areas where caring for others are mentioned in scripture, but this was the passage I had been invited to reflect upon – and the focus of my reflection at that time.
      Secondly, from this passage I was realizing that the first step in meeting the needs is to see the needs. The disciples in asking “when did we see/not see you…” is not about where Jesus was, but about their willingness to see Jesus and the needs. (Subsequently, how we can all overlook the needs of God’s people despite being right in front of us.)
      And thirdly, a question of clarification please: does your comment “not all people in the world are in the family of God” mean to suggest that not all people are beloved children of God? I think I would like a deeper understanding on that in order to make an appropriate/on topic reply.
      Thanks!

      • Yes God loves all people (benevolence and beneficence) but there is a love which is only bestowed upon his own which is different from general love for the world. As for “not all the people in the world are in the family of God ” scripture says “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”and “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” and “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”, and there are others.So the children of God are those that have put their faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ but we can not ultimately see who they are for we do not know if they will at some time in their life receive Jesus as Lord.

        • I think again Jesus is challenging us to see that all people *may* be in the family of God – as you indicate, we just don’t know. It makes the challenge for us even more all-encompassing, perhaps, as we are called to serve those who we might otherwise ignore/cast aside, if we have judged them as ‘outside the family’ yet Jesus might know them as ‘yet-to-become family’.
          Hmm. This provides me with much to ponder today! Thanks!

  2. “I think again Jesus is challenging us to see that all people *may* be in the family of God” . If that were true then it would make . That would almost be upholding the view of universalism ,all are saved but Jesus said ” not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord……. We will have to reconsider that way of thinking.

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