Rev. X Takes Care of His Own


The obscure story of an 89-year-old paleta vendor named Fidencio Sanchez melted hearts around the world last week. For 23 years, Mr. Sanchez has earned a living pushing a cart of Mexican frozen fruit bars around the Chicago neighborhood of Little Village. Two strangers who thought this life was too hard for a man of almost 90 started a GoFundMe campaign, writing that Mr. Sanchez and his wife recently lost their only daughter, and asking people to pitch in and help make their life a little easier.

So people pitched in. The initial goal of $3,000 was smoked in no time, and by the end of an 11-day campaign, 17,447 people from more than 60 countries had donated $384,290. These strangers from around the world who were moved by compassion to help Mr. Sanchez were likely people of all faiths and of no faith, but among them might have been some who thought of these words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, and I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in…” and when Jesus’ listeners said they didn’t remember helping him, he said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

But a Christian minister I won’t name says ordinary, everyday poor people shouldn’t be in our minds when we hear those verses, and he cautions against thinking Jesus wants us to see his image in the faces of the poor. Rev. X warns, “The passage does not offer the generic message: ‘care for the poor and you’re caring for me,’” and says, “’The least of these’ is not a blanket statement about the church’s responsibility to meet the needs of all the poor (though we do not want to be indifferent to hurting people).” (Nice save)

Heaven forbid the Bible should give us carte blanche to go around helping too many poor people or the wrong ones, and Rev. X sets us straight. He says we shouldn’t take from these verses a “concern for ‘social justice,’ or a general shame over not doing enough.” Instead he says Jesus was only calling listeners to support Christian ministers dependent on help to carry out their ministry (which, by coincidence, would include him). (PS – He says if you don’t help you will go to hell.)

Laurence J. Peter said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile,” and maybe neither does preaching in one. Story after story in the Gospels wasn’t about Jesus fighting for and looking after ministers; he was fighting for and looking after the poor, weak, oppressed and outcast. Fortunately last week 17,447 people showed us how it’s done.

As for the Rev. X’s of the world, if you want to dismiss social justice, it’s your call. But at least have the integrity not to pretend you got the idea from Jesus.


  1. I love this post! You lifted up a little snapshot of a particular story – one I hadn’t heard. You liberated me to consider writing about something specific and local for subsequent posts. I keep thinking I need to address the main/big news stories, but I love how you brought the readers’ attention to a specific story that points to something bigger. The theme of the blogs I’m reading this week is “double standard.” It shows up in so many ways – preachers distorting the Gospel, cops/military violence, reactions to killings of Black men vs. reactions to nonviolent resistance.


  2. Hi Deborah! Thank you for the thoughtful piece. I had not heard about this story and am pleased to read about humans showing up for the least of these. Unfortunately, as you point out, there will be some who do not. It’s interesting that Rev. X has twisted scripture to argue against helping those in needs. I say interesting, but it is also appalling that a person whose profession it is to teach the gospel of Christ seems to have missed the point entirely. Sadly, social justice issues are not popular with those who allow the Christian Right to decide not just their political stances, but also how they interpret scripture. In these instances, I think it is important to do as Fred Rogers’s mom advised him, “Look for the helpers.” 17,447 is a lot of helpers.


  3. Deborah,

    This is a direct and succinct post. Your use of hyperlinks was effective and aesthetically pleasing (neat!). And your writing flowed nicely. Keep up the good work!

    – Shea


  4. Deborah
    I love this article. You are a great writer. The story flows very well. And I agree with you. There are too many Rev. X’s in the world pretending to preach the gospel of Jesus when in fact they are only teaching the very personal and financially beneficial gospel of rev. x (lower case is intentional as they don’t deserve any honor or reverence that might capitalization might bring.)

    It’s so sad to hear Christians disparage the acts of love by other Christians because it may discourage others from doing the same. I had not heard this story so it was great to hear that 17,447 people weren’t afraid to demonstrate that they are still hearing and listening to God amidst all the current chaos in the world. Thanks for this story. It was inspiring and encouraging.


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