An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.
“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die.”
“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.”
The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves,saying, “It made a difference for that one.”
It is easy to criticize – especially when we aren’t doing anything besides criticizing. We critique politicians, our bosses, our spouses, and pretty much anyone except the one looking back in the mirror. When someone is doing good, we critique their motives, their effectiveness, or how futile their effort seem to us. Jesus looked at it differently.
‘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 and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)
Notice He did not say ” all of the least of these” but “ONE of the least of these.” It is in the little everyday things we do for others where we find the face of Jesus. It is the lady with Alzheimer’s who thinks her family never comes to visit because she can’t remember the last time they came. It is waiting in the cold to hold the door for a disabled vet to help him get onto the warm building easier. It is when we act on God’s behalf to be His presence in that moment to someone in their time of need. What a privilege we have for when we visit the hurting and helpless, God visits them.
It is not about numbers. God is not calling all of us to start million dollar non-profit charity organizations so we can feed the world and adopt all of the orphans around the globe. Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
May we see the face of Jesus in every one we see today so we will feel compelled to help one of the least of these in their moment of need.
For more on this topic: One of the Least of These