• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When Did We See You Hungry?

What a scene!  All the "nations" are gathered around the Son of Man, who begins to separate them one from another.  It is the Great Judgment, according to Matthew 25.  At this judgment, what criteria is used to determine who did well and who fell short in their earthly pilgrimage?  What determines the success or failure of our spiritual journeys?  Of course, many answers come to mind, many of which make great sense.  Some don't - like did we get our theology right or did we worship the right way, or did we use the correct prayer book?

In the midst of all that divides people of faith, Matthew's gospel offers one criterion by which we can judge our spiritual health.  (This seems particularly relevant this week as Anglican bishops from around the world gather for the Lambeth Conference).  To those on his right, the Son of Man says, "Come, you that are blessed . . . , for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me" (NRSV - Matt. 25: 34-36).  Wow!  Jesus was all of these things?  Understandably, these "blessed" people ask, "When was it that we saw you" (in one of those conditions)?  And, here comes one of the great sentences of the Christian sacred tradition: "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" (Matt. 25: 40).  

This, of course, is reminiscent of the commitment of the Israelite tradition to take care of the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.  Why?  Because when the people of ancient Israel found themselves in a tough spot, God was there for them!

Want to reach out and know God?  Want to find Truth as you travel the spiritual journey?  Look for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned - for there you will find God.

What about the others, those who found themselves on the left, or wrong side of the judgment?  Matthew has some pretty harsh words for them.  However, I believe that God's grace is sufficient for all, that no matter how much we may have messed up the spiritual journey, God waits for us with open arms, loving and accepting us for the beloved that we are.  

How relevant this text is for the fight against global poverty!  This text can inspire you to make changes so that we can find God in the midst of the struggle to lift up those who suffer.  

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