Today's Lectionary Text
Mathew 25:31-40“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘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 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 brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’
So, who are the “least of these” Jesus refers to in Matthew’s gospel?
In Matthew 25:31-40, Jesus identifies the “least” of his time as the hungry, the thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. Maybe the king in the parable Jesus speaks of invites the sheep to receive the good things because they noticed “the least” and in noticing “the least,” they encountered angels without knowing so (Hebrews 13:2)
I believe the least are any people subjected to discrimination because throughout scripture, there are countless stories of how God works through people others would have considered the least. God did so through Abraham and Sarah to give Israel a place and a name. God worked through Moses’ life to free the Israelites after captivity. God worked through David’s life by seeing people differently than Samuel did by looking upon a person’s heart rather than their outward appearance.
All of this matters, especially in our world today. God is working through the “least of these” so consistently that maybe it’s time to take notice. For instance, as I continue to study people who experience discrimination in our world today (specifically persons of color, persons at the southern border, and LGBTQIA persons), I can’t help but wonder: What would happen if people learned to see our human sisters and brothers and our environment as “the least?”
I don’t feel like it’s up to me to answer that question; it’s only up to me to ask it because if folks want to find themselves among the sheep Jesus speaks of, perhaps the most loving answer for folks to arrive at will necessitate that they determine who the “least of these” really is.
-Rev. Mark Crist
Holdrege First, NE
Prayer for Reflection
Precious Creator, it’s hard to understand why some think some people have greater value than others when we’re all your children. So, when we see people suffering discrimination, give us the courage to stand up for whoever is being devalued because as your children are worthy to you, help us to aspire to the level of love you have for all people and all of creation. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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