When Did We Hear You?
“When did we see you hungry and feed you, or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we see you ill or in prison and come to visit you?” ~ Matthew 25:37-39
The species in the Empidonax family are so similar that the only truly reliable way to tell them apart is by their song. In fact, unless a bird sings “fitz-bew” showing it is a Willow Flycatcher, or “free beer” showing it is an Alder Flycatcher, a bird bander is forced to band it as a Traill’s Flycatcher (the name prior to the two species being split) because even in-hand, the species are indistinguishable. The yellow belly of the appropriately named Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is helpful, but subtle. With enough experience seeing Empids, it is possible to identify a Least Flycatcher with relative confidence, though not because of its size, but because of its darker plumage.
During migration along the Atlantic flyway, Least Flycatchers are also the least likely to cause a stir, being the most common member of this family. Many a silent Least Flycatcher has been watched intently and implored to “just sing already” in hopes of it being something rarer and thus a bit more exciting.
Jesus told a story about the end times that is disturbing to many who attempt to be absolute in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. He spoke of judgment for nations and their people for failing to take care of the least among us. In fact, he not only shows empathy for the plight of oppressed, outcast, and marginalized people, he identifies with them. He says that if you want to see him, that is the place to search!
So the next time you encounter someone who is addicted, has a mental illness, has been in prison, needs a winter jacket, or just a hot meal, look carefully at them. Do you see Jesus in their eyes? And listen intently to their story, for that may be the key to their true identity.
Prayer: Sing your song Holy Spirit, we are listening. Amen