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; 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." – MATTHEW 25:34-40
Families come in all shapes and sizes. In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are all adopted as children of God – we are all siblings! This is challenging, of course, since we don't often treat each other as family. When Jesus spoke of the coming kingdom in the book of Matthew, one of the few moments where he speaks of eternal judgment, he frames it in terms of how we treat each other. Status, wealth, and moral purity all pale in comparison with the importance of how we treat "the least of these who are members of [our] family."
"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." (Matthew 25:35) How can we do these things? Is simply giving food to the hungry or welcoming a stranger enough? What if we asked why someone is hungry in a world full of abundance, or why the stranger is unwelcome when so many are ready to be hospitable? What if feeding the hungry includes addressing the root causes of why hunger exists? What if these solutions can only be found as communities coming together to solve these complex problems?
This week you will read stories of communities understanding that they are family in ways other than sharing a last name. You will also read stories about how fear can paralyze us, and blind us to the abundance that surrounds us. As you read their stories this week, consider how Jesus reveals the possibilities for abundance in our world—abundance found in the relationships we cultivate with our neighbors. This week, as you continue to do the hard work of moving beyond your own personal cravings toward the only craving that really matters – God – pray for discernment. Discernment to recognize the possibilities around you.e committed to create real transformation in their communities. They invite you to join them in that work.
God who parents us all, you have shown us how we are all related. You have revealed the abundance that surrounds us, and how that abundance can serve to alleviate the pain of our most vulnerable and hurting siblings. Breathe courage into us to forge new relationships. Grant to us the perspective to notice our siblings who are hurting and in need. Amen.