Vs 40 – ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
There is no better way for me to reflect on Matthew’s Gospel message today than to tell you the story of my neighbour of 34 years, whom we buried 3 months ago. She was a woman who lived this message of Matthew to the tee. She did good to everyone…even “to the least of my brothers”.
We are always tempted to think that one day we will do something great for God: One day we will have a lot of money and feed a lot of people, or something spectacular in that line. When we think like this, we do not realise that our opportunity to do something spectacular does not lie in the future, when things are better for us, but it is with us here and now, and every day.
When we had time to talk over our fence, my neighbour always used to relay her encounters with other people to me. And inevitably it would slip that she has helped someone in some small way. She would never start her conversation with what she did. We would always talk about some other issue, but somewhere during the conversation I would realise the tremendous outreach she had to people around her. And these people were never people of status or influence…she would always say something like this…”the child looked so lost, so I did this…” or on another occasion “the man looked so dirty so I did this….”and on yet another occasion she would say something like “the woman looked so hungry and I did this….” My neighbour had taken the mandate given to each one of us in Matthew’s gospel as her own life mission. She saw an opportunity to do good with people we could describe as the least, the last and the lost.
There was a time when all of us in our street built fancy brick walls around our houses, with beautiful palisades and security spikes. I am sure my neighbour also wanted her house to look fancy and secured. But one day, during one of our conversations at the fence, she told me that she does not want to have her wall too high and she does not want a gate that locks, “because how will someone get in who is looking for bread”. Also she said, “There are people coming to me every morning on their way to work for their TB medication, I don’t want them to struggle to get in.”
At a time when all of us were rightfully thinking of our own safety and security, my neighbour was looking out for the ‘least of my brothers’
There was something in the way my neighbour looked at a poor person that was different to the way society looks at the poor today. When she looked at a poor person, it touched her deeply and she connected with the goodness within herself, she connected with the godliness within herself, she connected with God in herself. Whenever she saw a poor person, though she never articulated it or maybe even never realised it, she saw the face of Christ. And therefore this verse of Matthew describes her perfectly: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
To think about: How are the least, the last and the lost fairing around me while I am alive?
Written by: Judith E Turner – National Coordinator – Kolping Society of South Africa and trained ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator