When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?
And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me 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 nothing to drink ,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Gospel of Christ
Who’s a Silly Goat?
There is good news in today’s Gospel for all of us. How God judges us will not depend on how much we know, or how famous we are, or how much money we have managed to put away during our life. We will simply be judged on the help we have given to someone.
And not only that, but any help that we give can be simple in nature – – a meal to a hungry person, a drink to someone who is thirsty, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting someone in prison.
Nothing big. Nothing earth-shaking.
Oh, and the help we give has to be given without thought of self.
Remember this in the text? “ When did we give you something to eat, Lord? When did we welcome you as a stranger, or give you clothes to wear, or visit you when you were sick, or in jail?”
The answer: “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”
These chosen, did what they did, not for reward, or for thanks, or to score brownie points up in Heaven. They were simply helping others – out of the goodness of their hearts – without knowing they were actually helping God.
Those rejected by God – the goats – asked a similar question, “ Lord, when did we fail to help you, when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked, or sick or in jail?”
The king replies, ‘Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”
You can almost hear the goats saying, ‘Well, if we had known it was you……..of course we would have helped out!’
But if you help someone simply to get something in return, you have done it out of selfishness.
The real key here then, is how to do things unselfishly. And it’s not that easy.
Because we all appreciate being thanked. We all like recognition.
It’s human nature, isn’t it, to expect gratitude for something we do for someone?
How many hospitals have wings named after rich donors?
How do we learn to give without being asked? How do we give selflessly – and continue to do so, and not need to hear a word of thanks?
The only way is to emulate God.
Because the plain fact is, that God loves us all, and what He sends, what He gives, – be it good weather, good crops, a job that pays the rent – whatever He gives, He gives to everybody.
The sun shines on the good and the bad and the indifferent.
Because He loves us. Everyone of us.
That miserable guy who works in that store just down the road? God loves him!
That lady who shoved her buggy ahead of yours and scraped your knee, as she raced you for the empty check-out? God loves her!
That so-called friend who is always borrowing money and forgetting to repay it? You got it – He loves him too!
With an all-encompassing love.
So the clue then, is for us, followers of Jesus, to try and love like that.
To help others – feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, just out of love for them.
And we do that by loving God in Jesus.
And that flows naturally from our gratitude to God.
I have to confess I am not always grateful to God. I say a Grace at mealtimes, and I do give thanks in my evening prayers, but in the normal daily routine, busy doing stuff, I forget that it is God who provides everything. I sometimes think I do it myself.
I just forget.
But sometimes, sometimes, I see the light, and my gratitude just bursts forth.
Like that Vermont farmer sitting on the porch one evening with his wife. He was beginning to realise how much she meant to him. It was about time, for they had lived together forty-two years, and she had been such a help, such a very willing worker.
He couldn’t hold it in any longer. He just out and said it, “Wife” he said, ” You’ve been such a wonderful woman that there are times I can hardly keep from telling you.”
It behooves us to recognise what God has done in our lives. It behooves us to be grateful, and in return, to assist others. And to delight God.
He is our great Father. The way to delight a parent is to help their child.
Sometimes though we lose sight of the parent.
A little boy was playing hide and seek, with some friends. For some unknown reason, while he was hiding, the others stopped playing. If it has ever happened to you, you know what that’s like. You feel so hurt. He began to cry. His old grandfather came out of the house to see what was wrong.
After learning what had happened, the old man told his grandson, “ Don’t cry, my child, because the other boys didn’t come and find you. Perhaps you can learn a lesson from this disappointment.
“You see, all of life is like a game between God and us. Only it is God who is weeping, for we are the ones not playing the game fairly.
“ Like you in that game, God is waiting to be found, but many have gone in search of other things.”
Pretty soon we will be celebrating Christmas – the time when God came to earth in the guise of a baby. We could easily lose sight of Him in all the clutter, and all the rushing, and all the spending, around Christmas.
God is becoming harder and harder to find in Christmas. Didn’t I read that God has been banned from being part of the holiday in some places? Toronto now calls its Christmas tree a Holiday Tree. And how’s that’s song go, “It’s beginning to feel a lot like holiday.”
In all the clutter, how will we ever find Him?
And if we don’t find Him, what will happen to us?
I’ll tell you what will happen to us. We will become goats.
One of the most powerful images I remember from my childhood came from the movie Pinocchio. Do you remember the part where the unscrupulous fairground owner gathers up boys who are lost, and introduces them to smoking? There they are smoking big fat cigars as they ride the roller coaster. It seemed so evil at the time.
Do you remember what happened to the boys? They grew donkey ears. They were gradually turning into donkeys.
There was a powerful message in that cartoon movie. One which relates to our Gospel story today.
Losing God results in our becoming selfish – with no thought for others.
And if we do nothing about that sad condition, we will not only grow long ears, but also two horns and a scraggly beard.
We will become goats!!
And we heard what happens to goats in the parable our Lord told.
They find themselves in that outer darkness. That sounds cruel, doesn’t it? But if I turn my back on Jesus, I am choosing to turn away from the light, aren’t I? And if I turn away from the light, then naturally I am going to find myself out there in the darkness.
It’s not that God punishes us so much, as that by our own actions, we put ourselves beyond His love.
Paul knew what was needed, didn’t he?
‘I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you His Spirit.
‘The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.
‘My prayer is that Light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given you when God chose you –get that? When God chose you!
‘Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours, together with all God’s people.’
If our hearts are open, and if the Spirit of God can make His home there, then we will be unable to resist reaching out to those who need our help, lovingly, unselfishly – instinctively.
And in doing so, will return to God a small but valuable portion of what He has done for us., because: –
‘Whatever you do for these the least of my children, you do for me.’ Amen.