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Lancelot Schaubert
Least of These Least
It unsettles me that Jesus never specified on the second time he said it. The verse fills us with dread in general: where have we overlooked the hungry, the sick, the undocumented refugee or person experiencing homelessness, the naked, the prisoner? When have we neglected to quench, feed, heal, host, and visit? And when - specifically - have we done so to Jesus himself? The dread grows. For Jesus, the second time - in the judgment passage, says the least of these. These what? These prisoners. These naked. These hungry. These thirsty. These migrants or homeless. It seems to me there are all kinds of ways to come in last place. And not just the most hungry, most thirsty, most naked, most unhomed, most imprisoned. It's least socially. Least financially. Least in terms of quality of thought or emotional stability. Most lost spiritually. Least attractive. Most obscure. The one who brings the clearest shame. Poorest, most uninfluential, of lowest repute. It means the one who deserves it the least in every single category. That. Is wild. Some of the hungry did it to themselves. Some are dehydrating themselves and poisoning the water holes of their community. Some are naked cause they're nudists or in the BDSM voyeur crowd or because they're selling their clothes for drugs. Some are undocumented migrants because they're escaping crimes they committed, because they're running from their calling like Jonah, because they're running drugs, or homeless because they love the adventure of sleeping rough. Some are in prison because they're guilty. They're the least. They deserved it. Jesus says that's him. What have you done for him through those you have every right to hate, shame, mistrust, avoid, or resent?