Once, not so long ago, a successful businessman was on his way to work when he stopped to get his morning coffee and a bagel. He paid for his purchase and dashed out of the store with his thoughts on an important meeting later that day. In his haste he tripped, spilling his coffee all over his suit and dropping his bagel in the dirt.
Just then a homeless man approached him. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, “Could you, please, spare a couple of bucks so that I can buy some coffee and a bagel?”
“Your timing stinks,” said the businessman. “You want something to eat? Here! You can have the rest of my coffee and that bagel I just dropped in the dirt.” And with that he got in his car and drove away.
That night the businessman had an unusual dream.
In his dream he sat in an expensive restaurant. The waiters were very attentive to the other customers, bringing them wonderful appetizers, delicious entrees and fantastic desserts, but they completely ignored him. At last, furious, he shouted for service, but all he was given was a dirty bagel and half a cup of coffee.
“Don’t you know who I am?” he roared, berating the waiter. “I’m the CEO of a very successful company. I make more money in one day than you make in a year. How dare you treat me this way? Bring me the best you have! And money is no object!”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the waiter politely replied. “Much though I’d like to help you, your money and your power are no good to you here. This is Heaven, and here you can only eat what you, yourself, have sent ahead during your time on earth. Unfortunately, you only sent this dirty bagel and a half a cup of coffee, and I’m afraid that’s all I can give you.”
(Adapted from a Jewish folk tale.)
God calls us to care for the poor and needy throughout our life. It is so easy to get distracted by our busyness, self-importance or the other priorities of life. But these are no excuses. When we feed the homeless and care for the outcast we are really caring for Jesus.
When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,a parable of Jesus, Matthew 25:31-40
then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Before him will be gathered all the nations,
and he will separate them one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘
Come, O blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink … T
Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
And the King will answer them,
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my kindred,
you did it to me.’