Who are the Least of These?
An old, gray-haired woman from Guatemala, toothless and blind in one eye, slept behind a fast-food restaurant. She had nowhere to go. She’d been living with her brother but he’d kicked her out. She didn’t speak English.
I didn’t know her name.
I met her during an interview with a police officer back in 2007. She had asked the police department to help her find a place to stay. She didn’t want to go back to Guatemala but had few options.
I later saw the woman walking around the fast-food restaurant. In broken Spanish, I asked her if she was hungry. She nodded. We walked into the restaurant and she pointed to the picture of the meal she wanted. I bought her food.
The Least of These
I grew up in a home where we had little food. My grandparents used to bring hot dogs that plumped up to twice their size in boiling water. They also brought cans of food and sometimes fruit. I remember hearing someone say “please pass the bone,” when we ran out of meat. It wasn’t always easy.
Now I don’t have to eat oversized hot dogs if I don’t want them. (I don’t.)
I see the homeless and poor all around me. They are “the least of these.” Sometimes they hang out around restaurants. Sometimes they have no place to go. The dirty, unshaven. The people whose eyes I’m hesitant to meet. Am I always aware of their needs? Am I always aware of God’s prompting to help? No, not always. I don’t always get it right. But if I listen to His guidance, I’m bound to be blessed.
Jesus taught that if I’ve fed the hungry or given the thirsty something to drink, I’ve done it to Him.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was 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, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40, ESV)
Her Name Was Janet
I found out her name was Janet Alvarez. Janet passed away a few years ago, but I think of her often. When I’m tempted to blame others for their choices that got them to a difficult place, I am reminded that I was once “the least of these.” May God stir my heart to reach out to the least of these around me.
Lord, thank you for the blessings I have. Allow me to be a blessing to others during their difficult times, remembering that you love them and taught us to love. Help me to see the “least of these” from your eyes.