Matthew 25: 34-40
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
‘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; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Today we had a missionary priest come and talk to us about Food For The Poor. This is a non-denominational Christian charity that lives out the Corporal Works of Mercy and truly cares for the least of our brothers and sisters. His homily was heartfelt and reminded us of Jesus’ command to love our neighbor. His words were sobering. For many of us to be poor means not having the latest Iphone. To the people he ministers to poor means not having any food to eat today. Poor means only having dirty, feces contaminated water to drink.
We see these ploys for our money all of the time. Sally Struthers pulls at our heart strings with pictures of dirty, forgotten children is some foreign land. Closer to home we have homeless living in boxes and people on street corners holding cardboard signs looking for hope. Social media is full of memes about refugees and our own homeless veterans. Why should you care? Why should you give any of these beggars the time of day?
I opened my eyes as if waking to a new day. The light was tranquil and warm, brighter than usual but not so much that it hurt the eyes. It was strange because I could not see the sun or any other form of illumination. The light didn’t come from any one direction. It just was. I was dressed in a tunic so white that it seemed to almost glow with a brilliant radiance.
I looked around me. I was outside standing in front of a soaring fence with a massive gate made of ivory and gold. Beyond lay an immense palace like none I have ever seen. It reached up into the clouds and ran left and right as far as the eye could see. The whole thing appeared to be made of gold and shimmered in this light. Each story was decorated in ornate statues and carvings. Thousands of windows lined every level.
To the right, on my side of the fence, there was a massive building that had a stone roof and no walls. It looked similar to a stable. The roof was supported by large stone pillars that reminded me of the giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park. There were hundreds of tables all aligned in a row under the stone ceiling. Each table had four chairs all on the same side facing away from the palace. Looking outward from the tables there was a stone railing that ran the entire length of the building.
Then people started to appear around me as if they were walking out of a mist. Each was dressed as I was, in a pure white tunic that glowed. Their faces also seemed to radiate light. Although we all were very close to one another no one spoke a word. We gathered and looked longingly at the golden palace beyond the gate. We must have numbered a thousand or more.
After a time, a man in a golden robe appeared. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. He welcomed us and told us not to be afraid. He invited us to a feast that was to be served in the stone building to our right. We all went and took a place at a table. Soon servants appeared carrying platters with the most mouth-watering foods upon them. One of these platters was placed before each person.
Before we began to eat I noticed another group of people gathering on the opposite side of the stone railing. These people we not like us. Their tunics didn’t glow and their faces weren’t radiant. Their tunics were dirty and a dingy gray. Their faces were gaunt, eyes sunken and dismal. These poor wretched people reminded me of the pictures of the Jews in the concentration camps I had seen. They looked at us sadly almost pleading for our attention, but not a word was uttered.
The man in the gold robe gave the ok and our multitude ravenously attacked their platters. I grabbed a chicken leg off of my platter, one of my favorites, and brought it to my lips. But then I looked out at the other multitude looking so desperately back at me. I put the chicken down and looked at them. Then I looked left and right at the people seated beside me. They all were so busily devouring their food that they couldn’t cast even the smallest glance at the people along the railing.
I sat for a while and thought about this. If I were dead would I really have a need for food? If this were heaven wouldn’t there be enough for everyone? I stood up from the table and grabbed my platter. I walked to the railing and handed my platter out to the people. Each took a piece of food and passed the platter to another. I returned to my place at the table and sat with nothing before me. The people to the right and left of me shielded their platters, fearful that I would try to take some of their food.
When the feast had ended and everyone had eaten their fill the tables and platters looked to have more food on them than before we had begun. Surely this food could be given to the starving masses on the other side of the stone railing. I looked towards them but, to my surprise, they were all gone. There was no sign that there had ever been a crowd there. My empty platter lay on the ground.
We rose and started exiting the great hall one by one. The man in the golden robe was at the end of the line. He said something to each person as they exited, then turning right they would wonder off in the direction of where the starving people had gathered. I watched them as they walked away. The glow of their tunics died out and they took on a dingy gray color. The radiance of their face faded. Their eyes started to recede. You would have never known that they just eaten the feast of their lives because they quickly started looking like the staving crowd that had been watching us.
I became very fearful for soon it would be my turn to leave this place. I was almost in a panic as I approached the man in gold. The person two ahead of me wondered off to the right. Then the one before me did as well. Now it was my turn and I wanted to run, hide under a table. The man in gold put his arm around me and we began to walk together toward the gate of gold and ivory.
“Have no fear.” The man said to me. “For you have received the kingdom of heaven.”
“What of the others?” I asked, still afraid.
“They have received their reward.” He replied calmly.
Continuing he said, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me. All of you have been saved because of your faith in me but only you will redeemed this day because you have heard my command and have followed it.”
“And what becomes of the others?” I asked.
“They have been spared from the fires of Hell but they will not receive the kingdom until someone like you loves them enough to feed them the way you have done for these brothers.” He answered.
“How often does that happen?” I dared continue.
“Rarely one in a thousand will put the needs of others before their own desires.” He concluded.
As he finished his reply we were joined by a group of about thirty people led by a man I barely could recognize. Before me, in a glowing white tunic and radiant face, stood the man I had handed my platter of food to. He embraced me with a hearty hug and a kiss on each cheek.
The man in gold motioned toward the palace and the now open gates. “Go inside. I have prepared rooms for all of you.”
Why should you care? Because Jesus has told you to care. He has told you to love your neighbor. To love is to will the best for someone. Any organization that serves the poor is worthy of your support. It doesn’t have to be this one. This is one of many. None of them can do it without generous contributors. If you have no money and you send a dollar you are a generous contributor. God will multiply that dollar as he multiplied the loaves and fishes. All you have to do is have faith. Give Food For The Poor a look and if you are able to help them do so. If you are unable to help them help someone in need even if all you can do is offer someone a warm smile and a hello. Recognizing their dignity and seeing them as a person is the first step to loving them.
Be a blessing to everyone you meet and allow them to be a blessing to you.