Today I will conduct a funeral service for man who was what Jesus called the least of these. His mind and body were ravaged by a fever as a child and he never fully recovered. He had the strength of two men but the mind of a child. He never had the opportunities granted to you or me. No chance for marriage or children. No chance for education or career achievements. His life was limited to honest work done by the strength of hand and back. But he did wonderfully. He never missed a day of work and he never complained. And he had the broadest smile of any man I ever knew. Oh, he was dependent upon the goodness of his family and friends but I think that was providential. He had a way of bringing the best out in you. He could turn pity into compassion. He could cast a light upon your own life and soul.
Jesus had a special love for the least of these. He understood what they bring to our lives. They cause us to feed them and clothe them and visit them. They cause of us to love them and find love in return. No wonder Jesus said what you have done to the least of these, you have done to him.
We get confused about our purpose in life now and then. For a while we think it is our career but career change and someday end. We think it is in education or accomplishment but there is not end to those. And then we run into those in our lives who cause us to deal with them, the least of these. Whether they are aged, ill or just unfortunate, we cannot idly pass them by. They bring the Jesus out of us. They release his Spirit in us and move us to do acts of compassion and commitment we never knew were there.
I have come to the point that I believe that the least of these are not accidents or sad misfortunes of life. They are lights along the path to reveal our soul and show us what is really important. They are sacred moments where we stop from the pace of this life long enough to see the hand of Jesus and to realize that he is watching. No, more than that. That he is living in us and through us.
So look around you today and see the ‘least of the brothers’. Look around you and let their light fall upon you. Look close enough and you will see the very heart of our Savior and discover that it beats within your chest.