Gospel – Matthew 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 the 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 on the Sunday Gospel
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God.
The Gospel reading is from chapter 25 of Matthew’s gospel. The narration is at the end of the chapters in which Matthew deals with the last week of Jesus’ life and ministry. Fittingly enough, Jesus speaks of the End of Time on this last Sunday of the Liturgical year.
The narration begins immediately with the prophecy of the “Son of Man” coming in glory. This title is one Jesus gave to himself. It is a reference to the Judgement at the end of time. “I was gazing into the visions of the Night, when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a son of man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into his presence” (Dan. 7.15). This title has the meaning of “a human one, who is the servant of God”.
Immediately all the nations of the earth are assembled before him. This is the great “Day of the Lord” prophesied by Isaiah and Ezekiel. This “Son of Man” separates the peoples into two groups, “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”. There is no suggestion that one animal is greater than the other. The image refers to the separation of two groups. The text then says “…the king will say to those on his right…and to those on his left”. The Son of Man has become the King!
That which separates the two groups is the loving help and assistance given to other humans by the group on the right; as against the rejection of humans by the group on the left. This is not a reflection upon the priority of “hands”. The judgment of separation is not on the basis of a specific ‘religion’ but on the works of mercy:
“I was hungry and you gave me food”
“I was thirsty and you gave me drink”
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
“I was naked and you clothed me”
“I was ill and you cared for me”
“I was in prison and you visited me”.
The basis of judgment depends upon the works of mercy a person – any person – has or has not done in his or her own life. One commentator says that Jesus’ religion is a down to earth matter of care for each other. This is a very strong statement to come at the end of Jesus’ life, the feast of Christ the King, and the end of the Liturgical year.
Brother James Loxham
The De La Salle Community
Saint John Baptist De La Salle…Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…Forever