Seek Him Where He Is

Phil Christman

READ: Matthew 25:31-46

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or
in prison and visit you? (vv. 37-39)

I used to find Matthew 25 terrifying because I focused on the “eternal fire” with which Jesus threatens those who don’t do the required works of charity (vv. 41-43). I worried all the usual childish worries—that there was a quota of good deeds that had to be reached to avoid damnation, and that I wouldn’t meet it.

I now find Matthew 25 comforting because Jesus’ teaching makes the spiritual life, which can seem so complicated, starkly simple. I worry about how to find Jesus all the time—how to pray, how to meditate, what sort of inner promptings I should be listening for—but this passage tells me exactly where he is. Simply go to the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. I may not know whether I’m praying “right” or how to “hear” God, but these words have proved reliable. Every time I’ve sought out prisoners—not to evangelize or “improve” them, but simply to be kindly present with as open a heart as I can manage—he’s been there. In their goodness, their intelligence, their lack of pretension, even in their obstreperousness that forces me to find deeper reserves of love to handle their response, prisoners have shown me Jesus. He said that’s where he’d be. And he is.

Lord, give us courage to go where you are.