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.’
The first thing that strikes me about this passage is the ignorance of those who Jesus calls blessed. These who were going about their daily activities do charitable works seemed unaware that they were ministering to Jesus. In contrast to these I must admit that I was very aware that I was ministering to Jesus during the six years that I ministered in prisons and jails - it was why I visited inmates. As I ponder this passage I wonder about about those years and the reasons why I chose to visit hurting inmates.
When I think about the people Jesus describes in this passage I think about how the gospels report that Jesus was moved by compassion when he saw hurting people. In like manner these, who Jesus call blessed, also seem to be moved by compassion for strangers who are hungry, thirsty, sick and behind bars. Yet sometimes ministering to such people can engage a part of us that has so little to do with compassion. But sometimes compassion arises in us and we touch hurting people. And in doing so we minister to Jesus.
Examine me Lord. Drive ungodly motives from me and fill my heart with compassion.