Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT) 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 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.’
Several years ago, I read ”The Nine Arts of Spiritual Conversations.” One concept that keeps coming up in my life is the art of ”noticing.” Years ago, a friend lovingly confronted me for ignoring her as we passed each other in the school hallway. ”Karen, you walked right by me, and didn’t even notice me.” There was hurt in her voice in being overlooked, even by someone walking by her in the hallway.
Each day, we ”walk” by people. Whether it is someone pushing another grocery cart, or waiting in line, or even passing by in the hallway, we encounter people with real needs. In our neighborhoods, we walk by homes with people who may not have slept last night due to a crying baby, or a couple that is not speaking to each other, or a teen who has been isolated by his or her peers.
But what about the one who is dressed differently in your workplace? The one who may wear the same clothes day after day? The one who moved in down the street and no one has greeted yet? How about the woman who sits alone at the coffee shop?
If we ”notice” those around us, we may see differences. And if we look beyond the differences, we may see; their needs, their emotional hurt and pain, the economic challenges, the accent from another country, or the wondering where the next rent or mortgage payment is going to come from.
Jesus was telling the disciples that when we do ”one of these things” to someone, to the ”least of these”, we do it to Him! They sound relatively simple: feeding, giving drink, hospitality to a stranger, clothing, visiting the sick or imprisoned. Physical needs. Noticing. Responding.
Where do we start? Right where we are, in our neighborhoods, in our workplace, in our school, in our church, with those around us. The ones we notice if we look beyond ourselves. Who are the ”least of these” in your life?
Loving Father, open my eyes. Let me see the needs of those around me. May I look beyond our differences, and see, really see, their needs. Help me to respond in love, as the Holy Spirit prompts me. May I be a noticer in my community, and then a first responder.