“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
This is such a powerful story. Us Universalists believe that everyone goes to heaven, that God loves us all unconditionally. I believe this, but Jesus is saying something interesting here. He is saying in so many words, "Who do you think you're kidding when you claim to love God but don't take care of your brothers and sisters? Are they not part of God's creation? Do you have so little regard for them that you ignore them or treat them with contempt and disdain and then claim to love God?
You have to get real and quit kidding yourself. God's creatures, God's creation, is right in front of you and you did nothing. You have missed the boat, failed to attend to what is really important in life, and now you are the poorer for it.
Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person even those in prison, those who are strangers, the thirsty, hungry, naked, the sick. Let us pay attention to them not as the world does, and our society does, but as the Spirit of Life would have us do.
On behalf of the Brockport Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, I have been visiting an inmate at Wyoming Correctional Facility who is serving time for rape and burglary. The inmate's mother is a UU in Chicago and can't visit as often as she would like so she asked if someone from a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Western New York would visit with him. She worries about her son. I have met with her twice now when she has come to our area from Chicago to visit.
So when God asks me "When I was in prison did you visit me?" I can say, "Yes Lord, I know you because I visited you at Wyoming Correctional Facility where you were incarcerated for rape and burglary." The people in my congregation know you because they support me in this effort.