Summary: What responsibility does a Christian have for meeting the needs of the poor?

God’s Heart for the Poor

March 2005

I was about 27 years old,

Still in the Navy,

and I was driving across the country,

to some Navy base or other.

stopped in at this truck stop for dinner.

Business was slow,

only 3 or 4 other customers in there,

and I sat down and ordered a dinner.

The waitress brought it over,

and I’m eating my dinner, sitting by myself.

Then this guy came over to my table,

and said, Do you mind if I sit down.

I looked at him, he was about my size, and sort of raggedy looking,

with old clothes and several days beard.

He was probably in his late twenties,

but he looked about 45.

He’d obviously led a hard life.

Now its not too often that you’ll be sitting in a restaurant eating by yourself,

and a stranger asks if he can sit down with you.

So I didn’t know what to make of it,

but I said,

sure, if you want to you can sit here.

So he sat down across from me.

And I said a couple conversational things,

where you from, and how’s the weather,

and those kind of things.

But he wasn’t very talkative,

and I’m not either,

so it was mostly pretty quiet.

He just sat and watched me eat for about 5 minutes.

Then finally he said,

I don’t have any money,

would you mind buying me something to eat?

Now believe it or not,

up to that point,

I hadn’t figured out that that’s why he sat down with me.

He was hungry.

Looking at him, I should have figured it out,

but sometimes I’m pretty slow.

So I said,

sure, I’ll buy you something.

About that time the waitress came by,

and she asked me, is this guy bothering you.

It was obvious she was getting ready to boot him out of there.

And I said,

no, he’s OK, I’m going to buy him some dinner.

I told the guy to go ahead and order something,

and he did,

and despite a couple more attempts at conversation,

we both just sat there and ate and didn’t say much,

and I paid for the meal,

and he thanked me, and took off,

and I got back in my car and drove off.

You know, sometimes I’m so slow,

it wasn’t until years later that I remembered that incidence,

and realized,

I knew who that man was.

I knew his name.

His name was Jesus.

His name was Jesus.

Oh, I don’t know what he called himself,

or what his mother named him,

but in a very real way, when he came to me,

he was being Jesus.

You say, Ken what are you talking about,

have you lost your mind.

Next you’re going to say you saw Elvis.

St. Francis of Assisi said Jesus comes to us through the poor and the oppressed.

He thought that the poor and the oppressed are actually sacramental; in other words, they’re like baptism or communion,

that Jesus uses them to come to us,

Not that in themselves

they are particularly holy, but Jesus comes to us through the poor and the oppressed.

Now we may not agree with that,

it might not fit into our theology,

but Why would Frances of Assisi say that?

One reason is Because of Matthew 25:31-40

31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 "The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

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