Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40(NIV)
Our closing hymn this Sunday is titled "When the Poor Ones." The hymn text is a paraphrase of Jesus' parable of the great judgment recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, and there is also a suggestion of the road to Emmaus story (Luke 24:13-35) in the refrain. The hymn is a result of the combined efforts of J.A. Olivar and Miguel Manzano, both former priests from Madrid, Spain.
In stanza one, we encounter the poor, the thirsty, and the crippled or weak. In stanza two, those who suffer and those who hope even when they are tired of hoping are lifted up. In stanza three, we realize that happiness has nothing to do with acquiring things, but with loving simple things. Finally, in stanza four, abundance is associated with making peace and welcoming the stranger. Each stanza begins with "when" and concludes with "God still walks that road with us." When you encounter "the least of these," you encounter Christ.
The central teaching is the classic liberation motif that God in Christ is seen and experienced in the plight of the rejected of society - the homeless, the poor, and the orphans. In life's journey, we are closer to God when we love them and share from our abundance of food, clothing, and shelter.
As we sing this beautiful hymn on Sunday, may we all be reminded that Jesus said, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation 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; 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." (NIV)
Prayer for Today
When the poor ones who have nothing share with strangers,
When the thirsty water give unto us all,
When the crippled in their weakness strengthen others,
Then we know that God still goes that road with us.
Thanks be to God!