My Grandmother talked to everyone. The guys stocking the fruit at the grocery store, whom she all knew by name, to the gardeners that came and took care of the grounds at her apartment. Even when we accidentally walked into a tattoo shop (searching for ingredients to make soap) the big burly, pierced and tattooed man behind the counter was greeted as sweetly as any body she encountered. Even so much as to compliment one of his more complicated pieces on his arm. It got so “bad” that my Great Uncle refused to take her to the farmers market anymore, because a quick 30 mins trip in the small town of Monterey, would take 2 hours. She would walk up and down, meet new vendors, check up on the ones she knew, making sure that their families were okay or maybe checking up on their schooling. She lived this way effortlessly. No one was a stranger to my Grandmother and she treated everyone like family and it was just who she was.
This weeks Gospel brings us into a vision of the future in which the Son of Man comes to judge the people of this world. Separating us in to two sides, the goats and the sheep. Then he proceeds to judge us based on our actions. While going through, he echos the words in the beatitudes commenting that those who have found favor with God, feed, clothed, healed and visited him. My favorite part about this reading comes next when the people that God has separated into the group of the sheep, have to ask how this came to be. To which the Son of Man responds “what ever you did for the least of my people, you did for me”. I love this part because the people that are doing the work that God has called them to do, do not even knowing they are doing it, or if they do, they are not seeking some reward they are doing it because it is just what we do. There is a lovely commentary on this reading that talks about how as Christians we, there is no way you will not encounter a person in need, and it is up to us to begin the work to help.
How do we begin to live in such a way that serving the least of God’s people is so effortless that we do not even realize we are doing it? The thing is that it is not “effortless” per se. It is difficult to set aside yourself for a moment and be invested in someone else. During the holidays, we often talk about in Youth Group about people that are homeless or are experiencing food insecurity. These are big, problems, especially in Los Angeles, where at least 58,000 people live on the streets. It is sometimes to much to think about, and we get overwhelmed, especially teenagers, but just like in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are not called to do all of the work, but we are called to begin the work. My Grandmother was not wealthy, but what she did have she shared abundantly. She did not do this because she expected some great reward, but she did it because she could. We all have ways that we can be present to the people that God has placed in front of us. We are expected to do what we can but we are expected to respond.