The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 22, 2020 – Christ, King of the Universe - Matthew 25:31-46
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
No one would be surprised at this gospel being chosen to conclude the liturgical year. Although the concept, “The Last Judgment” is not specifically used, most of us raised in the Christian faith will easily connect this gospel with it. The account comes directly from Jesus. So high authority is at play.
Using the image of a shepherd dividing sheep from goats, we are most drawn to the criteria used in judging one group from another. Taking this personally, we want to know how each of us will be judged by God. What evidence or criteria will be used as we stand before the Almighty? This would be very good to know, especially if we are still on our way to that momentous moment when our life here on earth will be assessed and used to determine our final destination.
There is a kind of “good news, bad news” aspect to all this. The good news is that we will be judged on how we related to and treated other people. Those others could be anyone, but here the light falls most directly on those in need of our help. That would include those who hunger and thirst for nourishment. Those needing clothing and shelter for survival. Those in need of care and assistance of any kind. Most of us are pleased to hear of these criteria. We may even enjoy helping others from time to time.
But that brings up the so-called “bad news.” It’s seen in the gospel’s final words. “Whatever you did for the least brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.” The point is that whomever we meet in our lives, no matter when or where, becomes a central part of our personal responsibility. How we react to them, how we respond to their need of that moment, will constitute the crux of how we are judged by God. Because this challenge can arise at any time, there is no “time out” in living the demands of our God-given life. No escape from social responsibility.
To refer to a well-known teaching, we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper. We are given both the opportunity and the responsibility of helping others all through our days and nights. The social settings for this kind of living are many. First, there are our family relations. While these change through the various family life cycles, they accompany us throughout our lives. And there are the many other social situations we face, too numerous to mention. So, we end the year with quite a challenge. As it should.
©David M. Thomas, PhD