November 22, 2020 – Sheep and Goats
Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
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.”
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.
- Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, a 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?
- 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 really 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?
- 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.