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The Least of These

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply,Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 10: 35-40

Nowadays they are called behavioral health facilities.  Formerly, they were known as mental hospitals.  I have been leading some “groups” at one.  The groups are on a different topic every day, such as “Asking for Help,” and “Healing from Anger.”

Some of the patients are very depressed.  Some of them have made suicide attempts. Some are bi-polar.  Some are psychotic, hearing voices and seeing things that others do not.  Some have dementia.  Some have post-traumatic stress disorder.  Some are addicts.  All are God’s children.  All, at one time at least, had parents.  Some, at one time, were accomplished people.  Some have dealt with mental illness their entire lives.

Often, one or more thank me for what I said in group.  You, Dear Readers, might be thinking that I am doing something kind for “the least of these.”  But I am going to tell you a secret.

These patients, all of whom have suffered, can display great wisdom.  These patients, all of whom have suffered, display great empathy for one another, almost without exception.  And when they share their wisdom with me and the rest of us in the groups, and when they show empathy for one another, and when they appreciate my contribution, then I am blessed by us being in each other’s lives.

The secret is this:  I am one of the least of these too.  And there is another secret: So are you.  I think, at times at least, we all need help and we all need empathy and we all need to heal.  All are sinners who have fallen short.  We all may be counted among “the least of these.”

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