question pretty specifically and without equivocation. The entire exhortation can be boiled down to one sentence. Blessed are the merciful! It requires mercy to feed, clothe, heal, visit, give drink, or welcome. St John Chrysostom remarked in a sermon on this passage, that we take pity on a poor stray dog and feed him when we encounter him, but we are most likely to ignore our fellow human if we come upon them by the side of the road. If we care for the physical needs of our fellow man, do we ignore their more basic spiritual needs? Do we welcome strangers to Church or think about clothing them in the garment of incorruption, their baptismal garment? Do we try to feed them with spiritual food, free them from the prison of loneliness or despair? It seems that if we go down to the soup kitchen or meet people’s physical needs out the back door of the community center, we’ve done our good deed.
However, we really don’t want “those kinds of people” in the pew next to us. It is easy to give a loaf of bread, but a much more difficult commitment to share the bread of life, the Holy Eucharist. The banquet of the Kingdom is the wedding feast, and the king wishes all to attend. He desires the room to be full. The servants gathered “the good and the bad” and invited them into the feast. Has the king invited you? Whom shall you bring?