I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

Last week we joined the National Association of Episcopal Schools in the Episcopal Schools Celebration. We had special prayers and readings in chapel around the theme of “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Our gospel reading for each divisional Eucharist was Matthew 25:31-40. What struck me most in this passage was that the sheep don’t even know what they have done to earn this honor. They say to the master, “When was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger and cared for you?” And the master’s answer is, “Whatever you did the least of these in my family, you did also to me.” The sheep don’t even recognize who they are serving until the very end. It’s a good reminder in our role as servants here. We all take on Community Service as our individual responsibility, and we have also framed our common life around this notion that the work of caring for the sick and the hungry and the lonely and the stranger, the least of His family, is our shared work, too. Jesus says in the passage from Matthew’s gospel that in caring for the least of these, we care also for him. This isn’t a metaphor or a symbol, the sick and the hungry, the least, aren’t just like the living God. They are the very realization of his presence here on earth. And so when our students find themselves breaking bread in a homeless shelter with someone very different than themselves or reading to a student who might not have a family member at home to share a picture book with, they are in the presence of Christ, the one who loves them and sends them out in his name to make that love known. Adapted from US Eucharist Sermon 10/10/13

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