In Today’s Gospel Jesus tells us “Every time you did this to a person you did it to me.”
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory escorted by all the angels then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
‘Then the King will say to those on his right hand “Come you whom my Father has blessed take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me sick and you visited me in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer “I tell you solemnly in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it to me.”
‘Next he will say to those on his left hand “Go away from me with your curse upon you to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome naked and you never clothed me sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask “Lord when did we see you hungry or thirsty a stranger or naked sick or in prison and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer “I tell you solemnly in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these you neglected to do it to me.”
‘And they will go away to eternal punishment and the virtuous to eternal life.’
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this chance to spend time with you in prayer. You are the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Mercy. I trust in your goodness and love. I love you and earnestly long to love you more each day.
Petition: Lord, help me to translate my faith in you into good deeds done for others.
1. Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, preparation for the judgment we face at life’s end. That is when we go before Our Lord and give account for everything we have done or failed to do. No excuses will be accepted, no more “second chances” given. Jesus’ mercy doesn’t mean he ignores justice. “Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it,” wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). Would I be ready to face the Lord this very day? If not, why not? What facet of my life do I need to change right now?
2. The Sheep: The sheep to be saved are the people who helped others, who showed mercy, who didn’t turn a cold shoulder to someone in need. Our Lord doesn’t praise them for their many prayers so much as for their good deeds. Prayer is important, of course. But it’s not enough. Christ wants our love for him to be reflected in our love for others. Oddly, many of those to be saved will not have realized that it was Christ they were helping. Do I see Christ in those who need help? Do I see Christ in my family members? My co-workers? The demanding boss? The unpopular classmate? The smelly beggar?
3. The Goats: It’s scary to think that those who will be lost were not necessarily “bad people.” In this passage, Our Lord doesn’t chide them for doing wicked things. He doesn’t accuse them of starting wars or peddling drugs or committing acts of terrorism. Rather, he faults them for the sin of omission, for things they didn’t do. “You gave me no food …. You gave me no clothing.” We may think ourselves good Christians because we don’t cheat on our taxes or look at pornography or miss Mass on Sundays. But acts of charity are key, too. We should do these without neglecting the others.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I don’t want to end up with the goats at the Last Judgment. That’s why I want to take my faith seriously. I want to have a generous heart. But do I limit my generosity? Why can’t I see you in my neighbor? You have loved me unconditionally. Help me to respond to your love by loving others unconditionally.
Resolution: Before noon, I will perform one small act of charity for someone close to me.