Orthodoxy means “right worship.” Our worship informs our understanding. Both the Divine Liturgy and the “Liturgy after the Liturgy,” our service to others, informs our understanding, our beliefs, our creed. Ultimately that service to others will serve as a basis for judgment:
31 When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 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; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
And who is “the least of these?” Persons with disability are not mentioned; rather, it is the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick people, and the prisoners and strangers. Of course this is taking the passage in a strictly literal sense; it is understood that these categories of people represent every category of people who are minimalized, depersonalized, devalued by others, whether they be persons with disability or anyone who is being ignored.
And upon closer examination we find that our Lord isn’t speaking in terms of categories of people, but of real, live flesh and blood people, in whom He dwells.
And there is a personal, subjective dynamic in play here as well- Who do I prioritize in my life and who do I put at the bottom of my list?
This disability resource page addresses just one aspect of this entire picture- people with disabilities and those in relationship with them.
Why? Orthodox Christianity is the fullness of the Faith; we don’t pick and choose whom we will love, do we? The person we encounter, friend or foe, is the one we are called to love.
So why this specialized site? Simply because working in a group home for persons with developmental disability is the opportunity that was presented to Margaret and me decades ago, and we ran with it, so to speak. This is where we live. This is what we know. And so we do what we can from this local, specialized sphere where we live with persons with disability.
The Word became flesh– John 1. The incarnate Christ did not travel very far in His earthly life; He focused on the people of Israel. And this was necessary, somehow, for the fulfillment of His mission to unite heaven and earth in Himself. And he calls all of us to specific efforts as well.
And just as He also healed and touched the lives of Samaritans and Gentiles, we are also called to be there for people we encounter other than those for whom we are primarily responsible – the sick, strangers, prisoners- whoever comes our way.
But He had a mission and has given us missions to be responsible for, and this blog relates to mine. To be incarnate entails being local. Of course in Christ, the parts become whole, while remaining parts- 1 Corinthians 12.
But Matthew 25 challenges us all to reflect the likeness of Christ and love the whole world- as it passes by our locale.
Reprinted from September 2008