The Lord — in His Saints
34 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; 35 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, 36 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.’
The kingdom is everywhere for we find the Lord in the thirsty and the hungry. He is there in the stranger. He is the one needing clothing and the one who is sick. He is the one in prison who so desperately needs a visitor. And in these dark corners of our world we find the kingdom, for there we find him.
Does our Lord hunger and thirst? Is he who himself made everything in heaven and on earth, who feeds angels in heaven and every nation and race on earth, who needs nothing of an earthly character, as he is unfailing in his own nature, is this one naked? It is incredible to believe such a thing. Yet what must be confessed is easy to believe. For the Lord hungers not in his own nature but in his saints; the Lord thirsts not in his own nature but in his poor. The Lord who clothes everyone is not naked in his own nature but in his servants. The Lord who is able to heal all sicknesses and has already destroyed death itself is not diseased in his own nature but in his servants. Our Lord, the one who can liberate every person, is not in prison in his own nature but in his saints. Therefore, you see, my most beloved, that the saints are not alone. They suffer all these things because of the Lord. In the same way, because of the saints the Lord suffers all these things with them. (Epiphanius the Latin, Interpretation of the Gospels 38).
As I walk along the street I see the man begging for just a few coins and I am challenged to imagine that this is Christ. Do I walk by, turning a blind eye, or do I stop and interact as if Jesus were present?
A friend is convicted of a terrible crime and is incarcerated and the initial response is one of frustration and revulsion. Surely he deserves his punishment — and yet, what am I to do? Go and visit as if it were Christ, himself behind those bars.
We are overwhelmed with strangers — immigrants from all over the world with whom we find it nearly impossible to communicate! They are bringing all types of foods and cultures with them and changing the way in which our neighborhoods look, smell and responsd. The Lord is found among the new neighbors. If you want to know Jesus, get to know the people down the street who are very different from you.
You never know where you will discover the Lord in his saints. Kingdom work challenges us to love and care for all those whom we encounter for it is in these encounters that we will come to know Christ and his true nature. His true nature will expand in us as we respond the way in which he would respond. In the same way we will be ministering to God himself. The Lord is in his saints, ministering to the world, and the Lord is in his saints, receiving the ministrations of the beloved. And all the while, the kingdom reach expands.
Lord, may I serve you faithfully in your kingdom. Amen.