Are you a lamb or a goat? Our reading today is from Matthew 25:31-46. It’s a long one. My thoughts afterward.
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 these 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.”
I cannot for the life of me understand those who call themselves Christians yet fail to heed Jesus’ words above. They say they are “pro-life” for the sake of the unborn, yet they fail to rise to the defense of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill, the prisoner, the convicted on death row. They claim to be compassionate yet all these they fail to feel compassion for. That’s likely not true of everyone who calls themselves pro-life, of course, but of the many I meet online, I hear only of their call to bring a baby to birth and then they are silent on social justice.
Now, I have read that there is such a thing as a “social Christian,” someone who claims the morals of a “Christian” but never attends church and espouses no allegiance to Jesus’ words above. They say they don’t want their taxes to pay for taking care of these least among us, judging them to be lazy and worthless. Instead, they prefer churches to provide their needs, despite church resources already being overburdened to the maximum. So, can there be such a thing as a social Christian, someone who doesn’t meet in community and someone who doesn’t actually listen to the words of Jesus the Christ?
In this reading, Jesus clearly and abundantly calls out how we are to treat the least among us. He doesn’t judge any of them. In fact, nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus judge anyone whom he heals or saves or brings back to life. Just those who complain when he performs miracles or associates with sinners.
So which are you, a sheep or a goat? Have you met Jesus along the way and fed him, clothed him, given him water, visited him in prison, shown him mercy when we was the least among us? Or failed to do so?