Let us pray.
Dear Lord, I thank you that I live in a country where we have the freedom to speak, and I beg you, Father, to give me the strength to speak in the face of utter indifference.
My Gospel today is from the book of Matthew, the 25th chapter:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.'
"And 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, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
The word of God.
This is a repetition of the theme from last week, when we read in Luke, "give to anyone who begs of you".
I'm reminded of the words of James Carville, twenty years ago. He advised Bill Clinton, running for President, to remember "It's the economy stupid", and for the sake of repetition, I'll remind you today, "It's capitalism, stupid". It's the same thing, over and over and over again, just in a slightly different guise. We're reading the same basic message. No, if you just help out the local homeless shelter with a donation once in a while, it's really not enough. What we read here is, whenever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.
Christian charity is not a ten percent deal; it's a one hundred percent deal. People who run businesses, well, you read it here, what happens when you walk into McDonald's, and you're hungry and you're just turned away. Well, what can you say? Hellfire and damnation? It's a little bit harsh, but really, that's what we're told.
People raise all kinds of objections to this. They talk about the homeless, they say, oh, they'll just go and use it to buy booze or marijuana; we can't trust these people, they're all a bunch of bums.
You can't tell me that someone who walks into a restaurant and asks for a hamburger is going to somehow go and sell the hamburger and use it for alcohol. If you're concerned about people getting drunk and vomiting all over Marine Park, I say, don't run a liquor store, don't sell alcohol. Don't give it away; don't sell it.
But if you're running a restaurant, if you're feeding people, then, we are told here, "I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink."
If you're running a boarding house, a hotel, a hostel, "I was a stranger, and you invited me in". If you're running a clothing store, "I needed clothes, and you clothed me."
Yesterday, I was getting on the bus. I went up to the conductor and just told him the truth: that I have no fare, because I have no money, and he said "No fare, no ride".
Well, I walked away. I didn't preach about it then; I'll preach about it now. In the Gospel of John, we're told that Christ condemns the world, he says, "They hated me for no reason." And truly, this is the position that Christians are in, we are hated for no reason. I will not work any of these immoral jobs. I will not sit on a bus and refuse a man a ride because he doesn't hand me a dollar fifty. And for this, I am hated. I am hated by people who hold me in contempt; "he's a bum who doesn't want to work". No, I simply will not work a wicked and immoral job.
St. Basil, the... what was he? fourth century theologian... had this to say:
He said, "When someone strips a man of his clothes, we call him a thief. And one who might clothe the naked and does not? Should not he be given the same name?"
Do we dare call these capitalists by the name that St. Basil used? Do we dare call them thieves?