“Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.” -John Chrysostom
This quote is from the 3rd century, and interestingly this quote seems to be addressing something the Church then was struggling with, and it seems it is not different from how she struggles now. There is this tendency we have to “adorn the altar” while the sick, hungry, and helpless remain that way all around us. to quote a modern poet and scholar/rapper, my friend Sho Baraka, “the churches gettin bigger, but the block don’t change.”
Essentially these two men, from different era’s, different centuries, different cultures, are saying the same thing. The Church, as a whole, is an internally focused hospital for the well while the sick and dying continue to be sick and die. Jesus said that he came for the sinner, that those who are well needed no physician. Jesus came making wrongs right, crooked straight, and broken whole. Healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, healing the broken hearted, and clothing the naked.
So what are the gospel implications…that the gospel is bigger than saving us from our sin sickness. There are social, ethical, and justice related indictments that are inherent in Christ’ gospel, and if we are not involved in them, but our “alters” are covered with “gold” then we have failed to incarnate the Jesus of the bible…at least fully.