Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his 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, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
“God does watch over us and does notice us, but it is usually through someone else that he meets our needs.” -Stephen W. Kimball. I believe that his quote captures some of the essence of Jesus’s teaching.
In the gospel, Jesus essentially outlines how we should serve others. He tells us that he lives within the people we see in our world naked, hungry, thirsty. He says that when he comes to judge us he will judge us on the things we have done—for the good of his Kingdom—and the things we have not done for his people. He taught us to love one another unselfishly, but when we serve others, are we doing it for ourselves or for the person we are serving? Are we doing it to help our “bid for heaven” or are we doing it out of the kindness of our hearts? In my own life the answer is both.
God usually does not appear to us as he is. We see him in his creation and in our role as co-creators. The first thing to realize is that we are the naked! We are the hungry! We are the thirsty! We seek the cloak of salvation, we hunger for the bread of peace, we thirst for the water of justice. As humans, we all have needs. Our role as co-creators is to fulfill our need to serve others who are less fortunate than us, who are struggling to survive. In the end, Jesus will judge our entrance into heaven on how we have fulfilled the needs of our world. As we prepare for Jesus’s death and resurrection, reflect on how you can fulfill your own call to serve while providing for another’s survival needs.