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Really Understanding What Jesus Was Talking About

Those who heard Jesus speak, including his own disciples, were oftentimes clueless as to what he was saying.  Even when he directed the point right at them, they looked around wondering just who he might be talking about. (Matthew 25: 31-46).  The needs of others, serious needs, were routinely being overlooked in favor of religious laws, or personal comfort and complacency.  Christ challenged them about that over and over again.

Here in the Conejo Valley, a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles, most of us live in varying degrees of luxury.  Sure, some of us struggle at times to make ends meet, while others live in seven figure homes, driving the finest imported automobiles.  Overall though, we have a standard of living that exceeds the national average, not to mention that of the world.

As I was getting a carwash the other day, I wondered how many people in Bagdad were making a choice between the standard wash, or full service that included the wheel rims, or shoes as my son likes to call them, and a layer of triple-foam wax.

It is so easy for those who really struggle to go unnoticed.  Yet they are all around us, most often in unspoken silence.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work with youth.  You’d be amazed at the number of children and teens we pass right by every day who are struggling in one way or another just to get by.  These are our children, the greatest in the kingdom of God, the ones Christ calls us to emulate and yet many of them are going on with their lives as best they can, neglected, alone and scared.

The teen behind the counter at a local fast-food restaurant who has no mother or father, no presentable clothing, is living with a friend and wondering how much longer the welcome will be extended before the street becomes home.  He goes unnoticed by us.  How could we know that from our brief encounter?  We just want our double-double and fries.

What about the child walking home from elementary school who will arrive at an empty house and wait for hours before mom gets home from her 10-hour day to prepare a meager dinner and provide some company with the little energy she may have left.

There is a lot of talk about justice in our land.  There is no real justice until the needs of the marginalized members in our communities are being met.  These children fall into that category.  So while we may not recognize them as we bump into them every day in the marketplace, let me assure you they are out there, often too scared, too proud, too overwhelmed to cry out for help.

You can make a difference.  And I can assure you of one thing, when you do your life will change in a way you cannot now imagine.  Why?  Reaching out to children in desperate need fulfills a part of the human spirit in us all that brings us life in abundance.

I recently became aware of a staggering statistic.  The known number of children in the state of California requiring foster care, those with no parents or family capable of caring for them, would fill the Rose Bowl to capacity.

Can you dare to dream of fostering a child?  Call a private foster family agency or the Department of Children and Family Services in the county and “just do it.”

Big Brothers and Sisters has hundreds of children waiting for mentors to step forward—small children to teens in need of mature adult role models.  Call today and begin to make a difference.

On this issue, as well as others, we all need to decide.   Do Christ’s words speak to us, or are we convinced he most certainly was directing them elsewhere?  That, my friends, is a dangerous assumption, because the words and wisdom of the Gospel are meant to challenge us all.

Lord, when did I ever see you in need and not come to help?  “And he answered them: I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it to one of the least ones, you neglected to do it to me.”

How can we make a difference?  How can we not?

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