RONNIE MCBRAYER: For the least of these

mcbrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

Published: Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 09:15 AM.

When I was a child my family lived hand to mouth. We were loved and cared for, but the cupboards were often more bare than full. I often say that we ate a lot of Hamburger Helper in those days, but with only the Helper.

My dad’s job was at a textile mill, a job he maintains to this day, though he should have long ago retired. Down at the mill, a couple of my father’s co-workers would help us, as such salt-of-the-earth people do. One of them was an old Baptist preacher named Gene Clark. Gene worked the mill during the week and preached on the weekend to a congregation of less than a hundred people way out in the sticks.

During the hardest years, Gene would slip my dad a wad of cash on Friday afternoons and say, “The church has plenty of money. You need this more than they do.” And, honestly, we did. Another man was Bobby Gentry. One Saturday morning Bobby pulled up in the driveway of our home and got out of the car dressed in a way I had never seen him before. Rather than donning his usual coveralls, he was wearing a suit.

Three other men from his church, dressed in suits, got out of the car with him. Then another car with four more men pulled up. These eight men began heaving brown paper sacks of groceries through our front door for what seemed like an hour. It wasn’t Christmas. It wasn’t Thanksgiving. It was just on time. And while I have long lost track of Mr. Gene and Mr. Bobby, I have neither forgotten them nor their kindness.  

Jesus spoke in Matthew 25 with familiar, but inescapable, words: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory he will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. When you did this for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it for me!’”

Where is Jesus? In heaven, reclining on a cloud? In the sanctuary on Sunday morning, sitting on a pew? Is he locked away in the Vatican or a seminary like a hidden treasure? Is he chained to the pages of the New Testament, a doctrinal pawn in Christianity’s arguments?

No, Jesus is sitting in an emergency room, an uninsured, undocumented immigrant in need of healing. He is behind bars, so far from his parole date he can’t think that far into the future, abandoned by friends and family. He is sleeping under a highway overpass with newspapers for a blanket.



1 2
Next

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

COMMENTS
▲ Return to Top
 

Local Faves