35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
You did for me. Whatever you did, you did for me. Whatever you did for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, tattered, sick, incarcerated, you did for Him. It’s not just physical, it’s emotional too.
When I was growing up, for a couple of summers we did an outreach through our church where a kid from the inner city came out to the rich burbs for a few weeks. Susan was the person who came to live with us. I think she was the same age as my sisters. Her parents both worked the line in a factory in Chicago; I think it was a toothpaste factory. I always wondered what they did there. Did they put on caps? Put the blanks on the machine? Box the tubes? What ever they did, those jobs are long gone, moved some place where it’s cheaper to produce, the process mechanized, automated, the human no longer needed. Not that it provided a wealth building career path, but it put food on the table, hope for the next generation. Now, there’s no need to pay the hungry mouth.
But the hungry mouth is still there. A family to feed. Children to raise. Dreams to chase. Opportunity to pursue. Cycles to break.
That was many, many years ago. I wonder where she is.
Technology matches on. Machines displace people and the flow of the money changes. Machines don’t get paid, and the hungry mouth is still there.
What we did for the least of these is not a threat, it’s a reality. Can we take care of the poor? Yes, of course we can. Will we?
That’s a question that’s going to get bigger and bigger as technology eliminates more jobs, as globalization allows resources to move around efficiently, as things change. Will the rich take care of the poor, or will we retreat to our bunkers to await our end?
Christ calls us to action: to be alive, engaged, giving, care taking, stewards of the blessings we’ve been given.
But the hungry mouth is still there. And the thirsty, stranger, tattered, sick, incarcerated.
What are you doing about it?