The Rev. Canon Dana Colley Corsello
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
My Lenten journey had an awful start due to a stomach bug. I was to preach on Ash Wednesday but woke up that morning unable to move. It was the first time in 20 years that I missed a sermon and the swipe of ashes on my forehead. I was bereft and now feel discombobulated—like I missed out. But after reading today’s lesson from Matthew I know that my Lenten journey and discipline was not negated by absence and is far from over.
I suppose my Lenten “success” comes down to my shape-shifting into either a goat or a sheep these next five weeks. How am I going to treat the “least of these”? It is important to note that these beloveds include all of God’s children and not just my neighbor, but the neighbor who is hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, and imprisoned. I am to see them as God sees them. Embrace them as God embraces them. Love them as God loves them.
How am I going to do this? With eyes wide open and a heart full of patience and mercy. I will start there. And I will do all in my power not to be shocked by my sin when Jesus confronts me (or my own conscience), and I can only respond, “Had I known, I surely would have given you something to eat!” Had I known. How many times have we said those three words? Had I known.
Let’s take up this Lenten challenge together and exorcise those three words from our mouths and minds. No more! And let’s replace them with “I am here.”
Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself. Amen.