Photograph of a Soup Kitchen during the Depression June 1936 National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
There are no subtexts or hidden agendas with Jesus. He spells out exactly how we are to serve him: by taking care of each other, especially those who are poor or in need.
Who can I help today?
[Jesus said to his disciples,] ‘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, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34b-35
John S.C. Abbot and Jacob Abbot The Parable of the Talents in the Illustrated New Testament, 1878
Bring a can of food to the food pantry. Stop to say hello to a neighbor. Smile at a stranger. Offer my seat to an elderly person. Listen to a family member. Keep company with someone who is ill or dying. Pray. Thank God for my blessings and burdens.
The small things matter. They teach me to see the people around me. They strengthen me to be with those who are suffering. They add up to this great insight and responsibility: We are all God’s children, here to love one another.
[Jesus told his disciples this parable:] “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.'” Matthew 25:21
Sieger Köder (1925-2015) Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet “The greatest among you must be your servant.” Matthew 23:11
When I am grounded in love and compassion, kindness and patience, hope and humility, I have no need to perform for others to see. I can participate fully in life just as I am—frail, tired, encouraging, interested, sorrowing, accepting.
I have nothing to prove. I am a precious child of God.
[Jesus said,] “All their works are performed to be seen.” Matthew 23:5a
My first response is not always generosity to the poor. It is not always welcome to someone I don’t know. Or forgiveness to someone who has hurt me. Or respect to someone who treats me with disdain.
But I always have the option to change my attitude and behavior. I can choose the way of love and kindness instead of the way of self-centeredness and resentment.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterwards changed his mind and went. Matthew 21:28-29