Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Sheep and the Goats Revisited

"The poor you will always have with you" (Jesus; Mt.26:11)

Perhaps one of the world's greatest injustices is the plight of the poor, the hungry and the homeless. This is one thing in third-world countries where the vast majority of the population is poor, such as in Bolivia, where 70% of the population lives on the equivalent of $2 per day or less. Or even Haiti which is poorer still. It's quite another thing in well off rich nations where we are guilty of throwing away perfectly good food, all the while others go to bed hungry, assuming they even have a bed to go to.

According to one 2016 article, $160 Billion worth of good produce ends up in landfills each year. That translates to about 60-million tons of perfectly good food, or 50% of all produce in the USA ends up in the dump. Taken another way, one-third of all food combined is trashed! Shame on us!

None of us are stupid; lethargic and insensitive maybe, but not stupid. I don't have to mention what that volume of food could do for the poor, hungry and homeless in our communities. Then again, with such waste, maybe we are stupid. Hmm …

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him" (Romans 12:20)

In all fairness, I know that many retailers, at least where I live, do donate great amounts of produce, meat and other fresh foods to our local Interfaith Food Banks. There is nothing wrong with these foodstuffs; they're just approaching the "Best Before Date" that many of us shy away from. Kudos to them for that! I will happily support retailers with values and ethics like that.

As I reflected on this further, perhaps the real irony in all this is that we may actually need the poor, the hungry and the homeless at least as much as they need us, if not more so. How so? I'm glad you asked. Perhaps we need them to teach us how to care enough to give to the less fortunate instead of only wallowing in our self-centeredness.

I remember years ago in seminary, I happened to meet a young lady in an extended care hospital while there visiting someone else. A friendship was struck up, and though I was extremely busy during those years - married with young children, working full-time nights, and going to school full-time days - I managed to somehow find time each week for a visit with my new friend. Even when I was tired and exhausted, and wanting nothing more than to go home and get a few hours sleep, I regularly went to see this young lady. Why? Maybe I felt sorry for her, since she never seemed to have any visitors, maybe it was none other than the prompting of the Spirit of God leading me there, maybe it was something else or a combination of all. But once thing was certain, though I went hoping to be a blessing, inevitably I was the one who went home feeling blessed.

Yes. Maybe you and I need the poor and less fortunate even more than they need us.

Is there someone whose path crosses ours that is hungry? Thirsty? A stranger or someone who is sick or in prison who could use a visit? Is there someone who desperately needs some warm clothes? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

Yes. Maybe you and I need the less fortunate even more than they need us, if for no other reason, than to learn how to really follow Jesus. Anyways, that's just my humble musing. Peace.
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POSTSCRIPT: To get the fuller picture, I would encourage you to read the full context of the Sheep and the Goats parable in Matthew 25: 31-46. Do we identify better with the sheep or the goats? Hmm, I wonder.

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