35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
“Lord, when did we see you?” is the surprised response of the followers of Jesus in this parable. These faithful followers were busy doing the good works Jesus had asked them to do by showing God’s love to others. They didn’t see the face of Jesus in “the least of these,” the poor, the outcast and the oppressed. They were helping and serving others with kindness and compassion as faithful disciples of Jesus.
As followers of Jesus we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to show God’s love in the world. We might ask ourselves the same question, “Lord, when did we see you in others today?” Each person we encounter in our day is an opportunity for us to see Jesus in that person and to act with compassion, so they can experience God’s grace and love in their lives.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism taught us that God’s grace is an unearned gift to us and that when we do good works, we are showing our love and gratitude to God by helping others.
These good works are called works of mercy, and these works show God’s love to others when we give nutritious food, clean water, and necessary clothing to others or when we show hospitality to the immigrant, or visit the sick and those in prison, and when give our resources generously. Works of mercy are the good works Jesus is describing in this parable.
Works of mercy also include sharing the good news of Jesus and seeking justice to end the systems of oppression and discrimination. God’s grace is experienced through these works of mercy, both by the person who receives mercy and by the faithful followers who show mercy. When we do works of mercy towards others, it also strengthens our faith as we grow in God’s grace as disciples of Jesus. God gives us the Holy Spirit to work in us to help us to grow in grace and strengthen our faith so that we can see Jesus in others.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
So today, let’s ask ourselves, “Lord, when did we see you?” What work of mercy will you do to show God’s love to others today?
Prayer: Holy and loving God, help us to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet today. Amen.