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.’
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
It seems like every day we hear news of yet another group of people mistreated and/or blamed for the problems of society. Often, these groups are people who have little, if any, status or power in society. They are refugees, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness – all people displaced from their homes. These people are blamed for the ills of society, and often extreme measures are taken to keep them out: walls, barbed wire, fire hoses, harsh policies. Those with power and status tend to walk all over these people without status. All too often, the least of these of our society have no one to speak for them and are not allotted the power to speak for themselves.
In the time of Jesus’ ministry, society in the Roman Empire was all about status, honor, wealth, and increasing those three things however possible. To accomplish this, people would try to hang around those who had higher status, and treated those with higher status well. Hopefully, this would lead to an increase in their own status as well. People who had power were expected to wield that power for themselves and those who were above them. They were to raise the status of those to whom they were beholden. In that society, there was no point in looking out for those with lower status, because nothing (honor, power, or wealth anyway) was gained from doing so.
Jesus reminds us that God cares about those who have no status in society. In fact, God is present in the least of these in society. Efforts to keep out the least in society also end up attempting to keep God out. Thankfully, when we work to include and care for the least in society, we are actively welcoming God. Our congregation does a good job with this. Through programs like Family Promise, through our financial mission support (which, in part, supports organizations like Lutheran Immigration and Refugees Services), and our quilting group which creates quilts for Lutheran World Relief, we are welcoming God and God’s Kingdom into our church. What other ways can we welcome God into our church?
God’s peace be with you,