In their appeal, they alluded to Jesus’ renowned parable of the sheep and the goats and how we should feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, and visit the sick, etc…, in His name. In response, Mr. Ford offered them five thousand dollars. Now, given that it was the 1930's, this was no small gift itself.
The next morning, however, Mr. Ford saw in the local newspaper a headline boldly proclaiming that the generous American philanthropist Henry Ford had given fifty thousand dollars to the local hospital.
Ford called the hospital and tracked the two trustees down, requesting an audience with them in his hotel room. When they arrived at his room, he waved the newspaper at them and asked what it all meant.
The trustees apologized, and offered to print a retraction, informing the public that Henry Ford had not given not fifty thousand, but only five thousand.
Instead, Ford promised them another forty-five thousand, but did so with one stipulation: that a marble arch be erected at the hospital entrance with a plaque that read, “I was a stranger and you took me in.”
Of course, what Ford was doing was turning the tables on them by referencing a line from the King James Version of that same parable. As they had slightly twisted God’s Word to suit their purposes, so had he, albeit tongue in cheek, in return.
But the words of Jesus in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46, need no tweaking. They are plain enough as He spoke them.
Perhaps during this time of the year when people budget most of their expenditures on personal vacations, these words reminding us of the importance of caring for others bear rehearsing.
31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
The month of July is the traditionally laden with vacations. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. My family and I hope to have some time away in the next month ourselves. But I can only hope that, even as we take a little time to relax and focus on renewal, we will still be sensitive to anyone around us whom we might find to be in need.
For this much is certainly true - basic human needs (such as the ones Jesus spoke of like hunger, thirst, loneliness, barrenness, sickness, and troubles) never take a vacation. Therefore, if need be encountered, if need be discovered, if need be found, then we, the followers of Christ, are called upon to meet it. May we be faithful to do so.
STORY SOURCE: This story has been around for quite some time. I first heard it from my step-father, who is a former officer in the Antique Automobile Club and a great lover of Mr. Ford. It can also be found online in various versions and places - for instance: http://www.wikipreacher.org/home/quot
ANOTHER MUCH MORE DETAILED VERSION CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://www.finfacts.ie/finfactsblog/2006/08/henry-ford-and-cork-ireland.html.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/kjv/matthew/25.htm.