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King: Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
King: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
-- (Matthew 25: 34b-40; The Voice)
"We need some winter clothes for refugee families."
"Does anyone have pots, pans, cutlery?"
Requests like these appear on a Facebook group for refugee families. It's that time of year when email and mailboxes include requests for funds. Checkboxes suggest how much we should consider. Photos of hungry children appear on search pages.
[Funny, I just noticed a picture of a smiling black girl with a caption asking me to give.]
Emotional appeals are everywhere. Why? Because they work.
Christians are tuned in to giving at Christmas time. We know about three wise men even if we don't know about frankinsence and myrrh. At least we know about gold. And we know the wise men gave Jesus gifts. (I wonder what his parents did with the treasure.)
There are social norms enhanced by Dicken's famous carol. Sensitive souls shed a tear. It's a good time to ask for money. No one wants to be a scrooge.
The thing I like most about the Matthew text is the integrated universal message. Faith and works are integrated- you shouldn't see faith without works.
And people who meet other's needs are serving God -- even when they don't know it.
I think it worth considering that people who don't meet the needs of the poor do not fare well.
The poor still need the same basic stuff-- a place to sleep, food, drink, clothes, someone to welcome them, and health care.
Wise people give gifts to help those in need. Wise people run businesses and cast votes with the needy in mind.
My website Geoffrey W. Sutton