Picked this up from NewsBusters …
Copyrighted image. Use here in critical commentary is considered fair use.
I turned on MSNBC this morning in the admittedly masochistic hope of seeing Melissa Harris-Perry, only to find Harry Smith — of all people — hosting continuing coverage of the Paris attacks and related issues. After running clips of Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee questioning the admittance into the US of Syrian refugees, Smith immediately displayed on screen and read the passage of Matthew 25 that begins “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat … I was a stranger and you invited me in,” etc. Smith then turned to the Rev. Jacqui Lewis, pastor of the hyper-liberal Middle Collegiate Church in NYC’s East Village, and asked this hyper-leading question: “is this as important a piece of the New Testament as exists?” Surprise! Lewis agreed that it “absolutely” is.
Does anyone know whom the biblical passage above is actually talking about — not about who are the sheep and goats in the parable in which the passage lies — more about that latter — but about who are the hungry, thirsty, stranger, etc.? And most importantly, why the use of this passage in relation to Syrian refugees is especially ironic?
Here’s what I think:
BACKGROUND: The quote comes from Jesus’ description of God’s praise/condemnation of the righteous/unrighteous at the Final Judgment for their charity or lack thereof toward the thirsty, hungry, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned as described in Jesus’ “Parable of the Sheep and the Goats” in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46 (Mt 25:31-46).
In the parable, Jesus identifies with the needy, who although popularly understood to be humankind in general, are actually limited by Matthew in v40 to “these brothers of Mine, even the least of them” — “brothers” and “least of them” being Matthew’s characteristic way of referring to the disciples of Jesus. (See Mt 10:14-15; 10:40, 42; 12:48-49; 18:6, 10, 14; 23:8; 28:10.)
So the point of the parable is not that Christians, conservatives, or Americans in general will be judged based on their charity or lack thereof toward humanity in general, but rather that the people of the world will be judged in particular based on its hospitality toward the disciples of Jesus in particular.
THE IRONY IN THE PASSAGE’S APPLICATION TO SYRIAN REFUGEES is made apparent by asking yourself “who among those judged especially deserving of charity in Matthew’s parable is least likely to be represented among Syrian refugees?” The answer is “the disciples of Jesus.”
Also, ask yourself the question, “who in recent memory have the worst reputation for being most uncharitable to the disciples of Jesus?”
The answer is “the present Administration and the overwhelmingly Muslim Syrian refugees.” See
- “U.S. ‘discriminates’ against Christian refugees, accepts 96% Muslims, 3% Christians,” Washington Times
BTW, I’m not saying charity in general is not a Christian virtue — there’s no doubt charity beyond kinship was largely unknown until Christianity came along.
I’m just saying the passage in question is not about charity in general, but rather is about charity in particular toward Christians, hence the irony of its application to Syrian refugees, especially by partisans of the present Administration.
The latter are the “chief goats” in Matthew’s parable — the chief perpetrators of of inhospitality toward the followers of Christ — chief among the damned in Matthew’s Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.