The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
November 26, 2023 – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - Matthew 25:31-46
Download this simple process to Prepare for Sunday using the Observe, Judge, Act Method.
We seem to have a strong interest in knowing all sorts of ratings these days. We want to know who is currently the best or the “number one” in everything. For instance, we desire to know like who is ahead in the political polls. We are interested in knowing the top sports teams in every imaginable sport. We watch cooking competitions which determine the best dessert cook on the show. We even have contests to determine the best of the show, which I think has something to do with canines. And we have awards for the best performances each year in music and cinema. And there’s the annual judging to determine the best books of the year, a contest in my view which does not receive as much attention as it should.
Shifting gears, we might also try to rank the teachings of Jesus. Which are the most important for us? Recall the passage in the gospel in which Jesus teaches us that there are two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor. The first Sunday gospel of this month had Jesus reminding us that the last will be first and the first will be last. Perhaps he was referring to how people were seated in court, or at official events, or even perhaps in places of worship. Talk about a turnaround!
Today’s gospel concludes with a teaching that would certainly be in my listing of top five very important gospel passages. The scene described is the Last Judgment, fitting for the last Sunday of the liturgical year. It’s worth recalling the exact words. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
God’s judgment was founded on our generous love and assistance to our neighbors in this life. It’s not about simply doing good and avoiding evil. And the good that we do for them is also done for God.
Basically, we are called to assist “neighbors” most in need: the poor, the hungry and thirsty, those without clothing, the suffering and the abandoned, those without family, friends or neighbors to help them, especially when facing difficulties. We can each identify people in our lives who might be for us “the least,” the ones most needing help.
We need reminders that our Christian faith is rooted in interpersonal relationships. We serve God by serving others. Our love for God is expressed in acts of helping others, which includes caring responsibly for ourselves. And even our planet which supports life for all.
David M. Thomas, PhD