Thursday in the Twenty-Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 25:31-46

The Least of These My Brothers

“The least of these my brothers.”  This is a saying of Jesus that sticks in my mind.  It is a well-worded phrase to describe the people that Jesus most closely identifies with: “The least of these my brothers.”

We begin this passage reading, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory … he will sit on his glorious throne.”  At that time he will separate the sheep from the goats, the righteous from the wicked.  Many think that the Father will be judge on the last day, but Jesus said, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22, 27).  And here we see that Jesus himself is doing the separating.  It is just, is it not?  Who better to judge us than the one who became one of us?  Who better to justly condemn the wicked than the one who was unjustly condemned by the wicked?  And who else would those purchased by the blood of this judge want for another judge?  Christ is judge because he is the Word who became flesh, sent from the Father (John 1:14).

We note that judgment is based upon the compassion shown, or not shown, to those who needed it.  This should not surprise us.  Matthew 16:27 tells us that when Jesus returns, “He will repay each person according to what he has done.”  Granted, the righteous are not saved by their works, but their works do prove their salvation.  And such proof is the compassionate service rendered to the poor and needy, the down and out.  And by this, Jesus does not mean tossing a dollar at them, even if it be a lot of them.  Money is the easiest thing to give.  Time, tears, and painstaking patience are most often required.   These people sometimes smell.  They also make poor decisions, and are lying in the bed they made.  We could tell them exactly how they arrived at the place they are in, and could also tell them how to get out of it.  I’m not saying that such words are not required; sometimes they are.  But that does not seem to be the way our Lord usually approached people.  Jesus spoke with them, touched them, and entered into their suffering.  And when he spoke, it was generally with words of mercy.  How many times has the Lord sighed again and again over my foolishness?

And most of all, we are to minister to these people because in doing so, we minister to Christ himself.  Christ is there in that hurting face.  “The least of these my brothers,” he called them.  If your church doesn’t have some of these in attendance, I dare say that your church isn’t doing it right; that is, don’t just go out to them; bring them in (Isaiah 58:6-12).

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