Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’Mt 25:31-46
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats is the source of the corporal works of mercy and underpins Catholic Social Teaching, especially our preferential option for the poor.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus affirms that the Covenant is based upon the two-fold commandment of the love of God and neighbour (Luke 10:27-28). Often he rebukes those who are so consumed with their worship of God that they neglect and have disregard for their neighbour. It is these people, the abandoned and the reviled, that are at the forefront of Jesus’ public ministry. In proclaiming ‘I have come to gather the lost flock of Israel’ (Mt 15:24), Jesus draws attention to the plight of outcasts, the marginalized and the oppressed with the intention that they will be loved and restored to their rightful place in the community.
Jesus’ actions highlight the inherent dignity of all people, made in the image and likeness of God, and he challenges us to see God in others, especially the broken. We cannot be indifferent to their suffering, for to do so is to be indifferent to Jesus’ very own suffering.
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats challenges us to love our neighbour unconditionally, even in the brokenness of their humanity. By opening our eyes, ears and hearts to others, we are drawn closer to God; for we cannot love God without loving others.
Director: Mission and Identity