25:44-45 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'
For seven days a week over the last nine months we have been distributing food from Coles Supermarkets through the SecondBite food rescue program. We have met many people and seen many faces that we would never have seen if we did not have this involvement. It always gives great pleasure to see the smile on the face of someone receiving the food. Sometimes we also see the pain of abandonment, disillusion, isolation and of hunger looking back at us.
Earlier in the year I spoke about how some teenagers in a school had been staring into the eyes of another until one had to break away. However, as they held the gaze of another for many minutes something happened within and they began to cry. I also related the story of the artist who travelled around the world and people would queue to come and sit in front of the person and they would be moved emotionally, some leaving in tears.
It is difficult not to be moved when looking into the eyes of suffering and pain.
Barbara Brown Taylor in her book ‘An altar in the world’ writes about the spiritual practice of encountering others. We are often too busy, rushing from A to B, getting things done, having a million things on our mind, to notice the people around us, the people we meet on our way, even the people we live with. If we were to stop and stare for a while, perhaps catching their eye even for a moment, perhaps, just maybe, we might notice God looking back at us. We might connect with the God who is in us and who is in them.
Jesus reminds us where Jesus can be seen. 25:44-45 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' 25:45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' Could we be too busy to see Jesus? And not just to busy to see him but to do something for him?
Barbara Brown Taylor says that what we have in common with strangers is not religion but humanity. Jesus talks about when the Son of Man comes in all his glory. When Jesus names himself as the Son of Man, Jesus is saying that he is the fullest revelation of what it means to be truly human, to be fully human and fully divine. Jesus shows us what it is to be truly human. Jesus tells us to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus says love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus tells us to love strangers and to even love our enemies. This may mean not rushing past but slowing down, sitting around for a while, noticing, being still.
Let’s pause and think about this. This is about recognising that all people are made in the image of God. It is about recognising Jesus in everyone we meet and especially in those struggling in life: those in prison, those who are hungry and thirsty, those naked or clothed in rags, those who are homeless, those who seek asylum and refuge, those finding it impossible to get work and an income.
When we look forward for the coming of Christ this passage reminds us that Jesus comes to us not as a great conquering king. It reminds us not to look for Jesus in the places of power and wealth, but to look among those suffering in this world. Jesus comes to us as the Son of man, the true human being. We are reminded to stop, to look around, to really notice, to see, to hear, to understand, that Christ is the stranger whom we are called to love. Perhaps we do not want to look too closely or let our gaze linger for too long in case we get caught up in the humanity of Christ and become more fully human and thus more fully divine.
‘Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus.
To reach out and touch him and say that we love him.
Open our ears Lord and help us to listen.
Open our eyes Lord we want to see Jesus. ‘
Open my eyes that I may see you in the eyes of all I meet.
Open my ears that I may hear your cry.
Open my heart that I may connect with you and with all creation.
Open my being that I may be still and live.
Open my hands that I may share your abundant life. Amen.
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation