Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I start out this blog post with The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus for a reason. This week found us curbing the freedoms that we as Americans take for granted. We have given up the freedom to find a new home, one where we can “breath free”.
This freedom was afforded to millions of refuges, immigrants, and weary travelers who, usual because of war, found themselves suddenly without a country. Also, it is a freedom that most of our ancestors took advantage of. And now we are closing the door to legal immigrants who do not fit our vision for America.
This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Amen, I say to you, as much as you have done to one of these my little brothers, you have done that to me.” (Matthew 25:40) This passage comes from the story of the sheep and the goats. Jesus speaks of his coming again to judge the world and how he will separate out the sheep from the goats.
Then The King will say to those who are at his right, ‘Come, blessed ones of my Father, inherit the Kingdom that was prepared for you from the foundation of the universe.’ For I was hungry and you gave me food, and I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will say to him, ‘Our Lord, When did we see you that you were hungry and we fed you, or that you were thirsty and we gave you drink? And when did we see you, that you were a stranger and we took you in, or that you were naked and we clothed you?’ ‘And when did we see you sick or in a prison, and we came to you?’ And The King answers and says to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, as much as you have done to one of these my little brothers, you have done that to me.’
Then he will say also to those who are at his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed ones, into eternal fire, that which was prepared for The Devil and for his Angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not take me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe me. I was sick, and in prison and you did not take care of me.’ And those will answer, and they will say, ‘Our Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and we did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer and he will say to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, as much as you have not done to one of these little ones, neither have you done that to me.’ And these will go into eternal torture, and the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:34-46. Aramaic Plain English Version)
Jesus speaks about the fact that when we treat each other and those who need us most with kindness, when we welcome the stranger and immigrant into our country, our homes, we do it to him. We are called to be like Christ. Our calling as Christians is to follow his example. We cannot close our doors or our hearts to the immigrants, refuges, the poor, women, LGBT, prisoners, and minorities and still claim to be Christians. Yet, so many people who claim to be Christians do just that.
Saint John Chrysostom, a great saint in both the Eastern and Western churches, said, “If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice.” This is very true. By turning a blind eye to the plight of those who need us most, we reject Christ. As a result, we will not find him when we need him most.
Therefore, I ask you to examine your hearts. Do you open your heart and your hand to those who need it most? Or do you demand that we close our borders to everyone? Do you demand that our LGBT brothers and sisters go back into the closet? Have you demanded that women get less pay for the same job as men? Do you look at prisoners as second class citizens? Have you refused to see the plight of our brothers and sisters of color who still face discrimination?
Furthermore, work with me today to see Christ in all those around us. In doing so, we will not end up hearing those depressing words at judgment: “Amen, I say to you, as much as you have not done to one of these little ones, neither have you done that to me.” (Matthew 25:45)