I remember as a child arguing with my siblings and cousins about who got to sit next to Grandma. We loved her so much and just wanted to snuggle up close and feel her love. Fortunately, Grandma had two sides and a lap so at least three of us could be lucky at any given time! In today’s gospel Jesus explains that God has two sides as well.
This gospel is about the final judgment when God will separate us as a shepherd does with the good and bad animals of his flock. The good are identified as the sheep and the bad as goats. The sheep and goats represent all the nations, all peoples who will be called together for this judgment. The point of the sheep and goat image is that all of us, you and me, will be judged by God on the basis of loving the least, how well we care for the weak and disadvantaged. Caring for the least of our sisters and brothers is our highest calling!
We’ve been hearing this theme of judgment in recent Sundays, as we always do at the end of the liturgical year. Today’s very direct and demanding gospel bridges us to the theme of preparedness in the coming weeks of Advent. So today, we are given the opportunity to reflect and evaluate how we’re doing, what are we really doing for the least then act. The kingdom of here and now is one of action and deeds and the season of Advent lends itself to simple, easy ways, or entry points, to care for the weak and disadvantaged in our midst:
Then let us take caring to the next level. The New Year is a good time to renew our commitment and challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone to care for others. If our judgment is based on what we do for “the least,” what side do we want to be on?
Will you be on the left with the goats, or will you be with the sheep on the right side, enjoying the splendor and abundant love of God’s heavenly kingdom?
Faith Life Minister