The Least, The Last, and the Lost?

Tonight was the yearly banquet to honor those who contribute their time or energies at the rescue mission where my hubby is the operations director.  It went overly long, as those things often do.  But the food was good (the chocolate cheesecake is actually the only part I really paid attention to, but I feel sure the rest of it was probably swell also), and being the director’s spouse, I got front row table seats, so hey diddle, diddle.  What’s to really complain about?

Anyway, the keynote speaker was the director of a rescue mission about thirty miles south of our town.  Long-winded as he was, he was a humble man with a true passion for the homeless and disenfranchised of our region. But one interesting thing I made note of was that he kept using a phrase throughout his homily to refer to those that come in and out of the doors of our respective shelters.  He called them “the least, the last, and the lost.”  This was a powerful alliterative construction that he obviously didn’t coin himself, but it somehow irked me each time he used it.

The “least?”  I feel sure that this is a throwback to the King James version of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus declares that “Inasmuch as ye have done it(feed, clothed, etc.) unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Personally, I always got irked by that translation as well.  Obviously Jesus doesn’t “rank” us the way we tend to do to each other.  Calling the homeless, the marginalized, the mentally disabled the “least”, is kind of like me saying that strawberry cheesecake is somehow the least of the cheesecake family.  I mean let’s face it – – strawberry may not be chocolate, but if you add some drizzled hot fudge, and a dollop of real whipped cream, it’s every bit as good, if not better. 

The “last?”  Again, probably another throwback to that ever quoted scripture about the first being last, and the last being first in the new kingdom.  But even though I definitely understand the jist of everything being evened out in the afterlife, why should the homeless have to wait till then??  Why should I get to sit there in comfort, (well, except for this unspeakable thing my panties and slip were doing – – trust me, I won’t go there) and eat my scrumptious cheesecake.  Why should they have to wait till heaven to get their cheesecake?  A HUGE thanks to all the terrific people who support our local shelter  – – thanks to them they have some seriously good cheesecake to serve there from time to time!

The “lost?”  Ok.  I’ll grant him this one.  Being homeless and marginalized and destitute would make anyone feel lost.  I know the speaker was probably using this as more of a spiritual metaphor, but earthly creature that I am, my mind kept turning to these feelings of incredible empathy as I could so easily put myself in the place of someone who has either thrown everything away or had it stripped from them.  Feelings of vicarious panic and desperation are easy to muster up if given fuel for thought.  I mean gee, I feel lost when there are too many feet away between me and my cheesecake, so imagine how scary it must be to be estranged from your family, your friends – -everyone you know – –  because of drug and alcohol addiction.  That is truly lost.

I know I don’t write thoughtful posts too often, so grab any meat here while you can.  I’ll be back to my fluffy cheesecake posts all too soon, I’m sure…

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