Who are the “Least of These”?

Matt 25:35-40

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “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.’

Who are the “least of these” mentioned in the above text. I don’t believe that Jesus intended to make the above list an all inclusive one. Of course it does include those who are hungry and thirsty (about 1/2 the world’s population), strangers (this could include many people), the poor (those needing clothes), the sick and the prisoner. But I’m also sure he includes the homeless, the financially challenged, drug addicts (both legal and illegal drugs), the handicapped, and all those generally on the margins of society and who typically fall through a conservative safety net. In other words most of those people who Christians feel pretty uneasy associating with. Jesus was always right among them and I think he expects us to be there also.

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