"Who are Jesus' Brothers?" - Larry Fries
There were no homeless people when I was growing up in Bellflower. I had heard about hobos and seen them in the movies, but it was outside of my experience in the 1950's. Although there were places along the riverbed, were we sometimes played, that looked like someone may have lived there, generally for most of my early life, I thought that all the hobos lived in Downtown L.A. It wasn't until I became an adult, in my mid 40's, that I became aware of local homelessness, but still it was something that I always pushed to the back of my mind as not concerning me.
It wasn't until alcohol and drugs put some family members on the street, that I became aware of how serious an epidemic it was. Where once, someone pushing a shopping cart and living on the streets or riverbed was something that I joked about, now it was something that brought fear, shame, anxiety and despair to the whole family. We felt powerless and hopeless and I soon realized how little I knew about how to help. For those reasons I became involved in substance abuse ministries and later engaged the homeless on the streets and riverbed of Bellflower with KCB.
It was only then that I began to see the importance and centrality of Jesus' ministry to the poor, the prisoners, the oppressed, and the blind, as Good News…and it began to make sense. Jesus told us how he will judge the way we have lived. It is nothing less than this:
When King Jesus comes in all of his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne judging all peoples, and he will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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…
I was a stranger and you welcomed me…
I was naked and you clothed me…
I was sick and you visited me…
I was in prison and you came to me.
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger, or naked, or sick or in prison and do something about it?’ And then King Jesus will answer them: ‘These are my brothers, so whatever you did to them, you did to me, even the very least of them. (Adapted from Matthew 25)
I, and everyone who calls themselves a Christian, is called to 'see' the image of God in the very least of these who are Jesus' brothers and furthermore to do something about their situation. I must never forget that they are someone's child, father, mother, sister and they are all Jesus' brothers. If this is so important to Jesus, how will I then live? And how will I treat him? What will Jesus say to me?
HOW TO PRAY:
Pray for Bellflower’s homeless neighbors—for their safety and for their ability to find housing and support
Pray for the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, sons, and/or daughters of the homeless neighbors you see in Bellflower.
Pray that God would give you the ability to see His image in our homeless neighbors
Matthew 25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 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.’ Then 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, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters 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, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
About the Author: Larry Fries - I've lived in Bellflower since 1953 and raised my family here. And I've been involved with KCB since it began.