Matthew 25: 31-46
The Sheep and the Goats
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
In today’s Gospel, on the Feast of Christ the King, we see Jesus as a king in all his glory, respected and honoured as royalty always is.
But this king baffles people by talking about whether or not they helped and cared for him when he was hungry, homeless, sick, a prisoner – I mean, who ever heard of a hungry king?
This piece of scripture goes right to the heart of what it truly means to be a Christian: we follow a man who lived a difficult life, and who experienced all these things. The people who helped him then saw the majesty of God within him. The ones who were against him either couldn’t or wouldn’t see this.
Jesus is not just talking to the people of his own time, the ones who met him. He is talking about every one of us, and every person who has ever needed or will ever need our compassion, care and love.
This is about seeing God in every single person, and responding to their need as we would to Jesus himself. Can we really call ourselves Christians, or even human beings, if we turn away from people who need our help; if we say, well, they brought it on themselves, or they're just no good at managing their money, or why can't they just get a job and stop scrounging?
Jesus tells us we will regret being selfish and hard-hearted when we finally meet him and have to account for how we lived our lives.
Today we also celebrate National Youth Sunday, thinking of the young people who are the future of our Church and society. They have so much to offer and need to be listened to so they can make good use of their gifts and their compassion. Young people are achieving such amazing things, and they care passionately about the world we share. Christ the King is in every one of them and by reaching out to each other, we reach out to him too.
Let’s not be goats!
Salesian Communications Worker
Let us see your face in the faces of the poor,
the refugees, the homeless, the sick, the elderly.
Let us show them kindness and be willing to share what we have to help them.
We pray especially for our young people.
Give them hope and opportunity.
Walk with them as they make the difficult decisions of life.
Share their joys and their griefs, and help older people to do the same.