“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Sheep and Goats

Once section of the Bible that is often mentioned in reference to working with persons with disabilities is Matthew 25:31-46 which is the section about the sheep and the goats also known as the passage relating to the "least of these my brethren." I have to admit that I have a bit of a problem with the manner in which this passage is so often applied to persons with disabililties. Not so much because we can't assist them, but because they are immediately identified as the "least." I don't think of them as the least. I guess it isn't always easy to determine the least, as it is at times hard to distinguish sheep from goats, at least for some people.

I once had a little pigmy goat that my family gave me for my birthday. I called her Precious (she was my precious, my birthday present, if you understand that allusion, I am glad to know there are others as goofy as myself about particular literature). Anyway, I was surprised at how people would look at my goat and think it was a sheep.

It is interesting in this passage the way the responses between the sheeplike people is differentiated from the goatlike people. The sheep repeatedly use the word "you," in "when did we see YOU hungry and feed YOU . . . see YOU a stranger and invite YOU in (caps added)." The goats say, "when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger . . ." simply listing the litany. Do you catch the subtle difference?

The implication in the sheep is that they saw those needing the types of assistance listed, and helped them, but they didn't see Jesus specifically. The implication for the goats is that they didn't see anyone who had the various needs.

Matthew says,
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Reading that passage, come to think of it, I change my mind on that whole least thing. I kind of like the fact that people associate the "least of these," with persons with disabilities. I say that because, if people are Christians with any experience with their Bibles at all, it would mean that they are associating persons with disabilities with the King, or Jesus.

But I wonder what will you do with the King in your midst? Could someone observing your experience with persons with disabilities tell whether you are a sheep or a goat?


No comments: