The Gospel according to Matthew (Mt 25:31-46)
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 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 foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Reflection: I recall a time when I was young, and we would play in the streets of East L.A. No matter what sport we were playing, we had to select teams. So of course, there were two captains and they picked away. You always knew that the better athletes or the most popular would get selected first and the weakest or un-athletic would get chosen last. Back in those days, I would consider myself athletic but there was a time when I was somewhere else, and nobody knew me. Therefore, I was selected last. WOW! I never experienced this type of humiliating denial. It was a terrible feeling. And of course, I proved myself at the end but that feeling has never left me even to this day.
Today’s Gospel is pretty plain and simple of what Jesus is telling us. So, I won’t reiterate the obvious. But in my reading, I found this “gem” in a book about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa said that she knew that ministering to our fellow brothers and sisters means that she is ministering to Jesus himself, whose image she saw in the faces of the poor. Consider her powerful words that reference this passage: “In order to help us deserve heaven, Christ set a condition: that at the moment of our death you and I, whoever we might have been and whenever we have lived, Christians and non-Christians alike, every human being who has been created by the loving hand of God in his own image shall stand in His presence and be judged according to what we have been for the poor, what we have done for them”. Christ said, “I was hungry, and you gave me food”. He was hungry not only for bread but for the understanding love of being loved, of being known, of being someone to someone. He was naked not only of clothing but of human dignity and respect, through the injustice that is done to the poor, who are looked down upon simply because they are poor. He was dispossessed not only of a house made of bricks but because of the dispossession of those who are locked up, of those who are unwanted and unloved, of those who walk through the world with no one to care for them. (Mother Teresa, Heart of Joy: The Transforming Power of Self-Giving)
Do we make the effort to go out to meet them? Do we know them? Do we try to find them? Do we seek the homebound, so they are bound for home? Do we open our inner circle so we can make it bigger? Do we quench their thirst for love, understanding and compassion?
Fr. Richard Rohr talks about the word “Kinship”. Kinship is our goal, and it allows other essential things to fall into place; without it, there would be no justice, no peace. Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come. I suspect that with kinship our goal, we would no longer be promoting justice—we would be celebrating it.
Often, we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom.
Action of the Day: Evaluate your own efforts towards the unfortunate and underprivileged. Is it enough when the “Good Shepperd” comes to separate us?