Mother Theresa said “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
Poverty causes isolation, shame and fear. As followers of Christ, what is our response to poverty? And not just financial poverty. Poverty of grief, loneliness, or other societal poverty.
Matthew 25:31-45 gives some very practical and clear instructions about caring for the least of these.
The basic needs of humanity, according to Jesus, are physical and social needs. We need food, we need shelter, we need nurture, we need belonging. And poverty comes from a deprivation of or an inability to provide, these.
So, as followers of Christ, what is our response?
37 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? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
40 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.’
Jesus, because of his incredible love, gave his everything for you. For me. The challenge in this passage of Matthew’s gospel is that it is not simply enough to be a good person.
It is simply not enough to live a kind and generous life.
If you are struggling with where to start in caring for the least, it’s really quite easy.
Who’s hungry? Feed them.
Who’s thirsty? Give them something to drink.
Who doesn’t have enough? Clothe them with generosity.
Who is a newcomer? Make them feel part of our family.
Who is sick? Take care of them.
Who is imprisoned? Let them know they aren’t alone.
The opportunity to love generously, give freely and care deeply comes from knowing who we are. We belong to Christ. Our hope is in Christ. Our identity is in Christ and our capacity to care for the least of these begins with and points to, Christ.
Let’s be intentional about looking out for and meeting the needs of our church family. Let’s be honest and vulnerable about sharing our needs. Let’s be a people who are known for their genuine expression of love for one another.
God bless you this week.