“Lord, when did we see you hungry . . . ?”
— Matthew 25:37, 44

Jesus’ parable about sheep and goats teaches us that he is present among the poor, sick, imprisoned, strangers, outcasts, and others who may be disadvantaged. He identifies with these people so closely that an act of kindness done to them is one done to him. And the “reward” for caring for these people is to be welcomed into the kingdom of God.
A wonderful feature of this parable is the absolute surprise of the sheep when they hear the good news of their welcome. They don’t expect it. When the King tells them that by caring for these people they have fed, clothed, and visited him, they are astonished. When did we see you hungry or naked or thirsty? In other words, we only saw other humans in need and were happy to serve them simply because they were human, not because we thought it would bring us any reward. We did it because it was the right thing to do.
The goats, on the other hand, are equally surprised. They hear that they will not receive their inheritance because they neglected the people in need. Their response suggests that because they did not see the King among those people, the poor and others in need were not worthy of their care and ­attention.
Blessed are all who bless the poor and outcast and all others in need with kindness, food, clothing, and more without expecting to be rewarded.

Lord, forgive me if I withhold acts of mercy and kindness because I think people are undeserving. Guide me to show your love and generosity. Amen.

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