Today’s Gospel reading from Saint Matthew 25 verses 31-46 serves as an “un-official” anniversary for Orthodox Africa. It was because of today’s Gospel that our Founder, was challenged to determine how he could one day answer Christ when he finally stands in front of him at the dread Last Judgment and asked him, “Did you feed the hungry?” As we enter into Lent, this Gospel reading should challenge all of us. Just as the Founder was challenged to find an affirmative answer for Christ to the question of did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked or visit the sick, the widows, and those who are in prison, what answer will you give to Him?
Directly before this Gospel reading, is the story of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-29).
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise, he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
How will we answer our Lord and Savior when He asks us what we did with the many talents that He has given us? Will we be able to say, “Yes my Lord, I fed the hungry, I clothed the naked, I visited the widows, prisoners and those who are in need.”
(Icon by the hand of Fr. Luke Dingman.)
In the Orthodox Church, we realize that we are all saved together. What one person does affects all of us. In that spirit, the Directors of Orthodox Africa are working hard to help provide the means by which all of us together can play our part. Not everyone has the freedom to go too far away lands to serve orphans. Most of us find ourselves tied down by the cares of the world; jobs, bills to pay, kids to raise, etc. But that does not mean that we cannot all participate in the life of missions. In one way or another, we need to be able to say, “Yes my Lord, I helped feed the orphans. I helped those who ministered to widows and the prisoners. My Lord, I carried them all in my heart as I prayed every day.”
The Board of Directors of Orthodox Africa never wants to be an organization in which people passively send a check to every month so that they can feel good about “doing their part.” Rather, we are about relationships. We encourage you to join our groups. Get to know the missions we serve. Adopt the orphans by sponsoring them with prayer and a chance at a good education. Let them know you love them so that one day we may all stand together before the dread Throne of Christ and hear Him say,
“‘Come, you blessed of 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 drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’”