This is Jesus into the category speaking in this passage.
He doesn't give any wiggle room.
There is no quarter where we might say, “yeah, but...”
The “least of these” were just like the “least of these” we have now.
Remember that the next time you vilify or castigate anyone who may fit into the categories listed below.
Just because it is cache these days to cast anyone listed amongst these 15 verses in something of a virulently negative light, does not mean that it is the correct attitude within the context of accepted thinking & behavior of someone who claims to follow the One speaking in this passage.
I am embarrased & ashamed of the many, many times in my life that I have looked the other way & ignored “the least of these.”
I hope & pray those days are gone.
Read it & remember it, & heed it, too.
Jesus has some pretty harsh things to say to anyone who doesn't.
31 "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
then he will sit upon his glorious throne.
32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence,
and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father,
inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me.
I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing.
I was sick, and you cared for me.
I was in prison, and you visited me.'
37 "Then these righteous ones will reply,
'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?
Or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality?
Or naked and give you clothing?
39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
40 "And the King will say,
'I tell you the truth,
when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,
you were doing it to me!'
41 "Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, '
Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.
42 For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me.
I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home.
I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing.
I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'
44 "Then they will reply,
'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'
45 "And he will answer,
'I tell you the truth,
when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters,
you were refusing to help me.'
46 "And they will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous will go into eternal life."