I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”
— Mother Teresa
Mother Theresa and Dorothy Day always said they saw “the face of Christ” in the poor and marginalized, but that’s a “theology of the poor” that goes back a long way–and not just in the Catholic faith tradition.
It’s been a “spiritual thing” in a lot of churches and faith traditions going way back.
Facebook has a wonderful, fee-good page called “Humans of New York,” in which some common man or woman on the street poses for a picture and shares a brief yarn or some nugget of wisdom about his or her life.
This story, shared by the New Yorker in this picture, brought a couple of scriptures to mind:
“One day a crazy looking homeless guy came to the door, and we were about to close the door on him, but my mother saw him and shouted: ‘Hey Eugene!’ She knew his name! Then she ran around the kitchen putting all sorts of food into tupperware, and brought it out to him. After he left, we asked my mom why she gave him so much food. She told us: ‘You never know how Jesus is going to look when he shows up.’ She was always saying that– it was a spiritual thing. Then you know what happened? Two months later, that same man showed up on the door step, clean shaven, and wearing a suit. And he had an envelope with money for my mother. ‘Ms. Rosa always believed in me,’ he said. I’ll never forget it! Eugene was his name.
“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
— Hebrews 13: 1-2
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
— Matthew 25: 31-40