“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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
It’s interesting to note that in both Moses’ and Jesus’ description of what God wants from us, there is a focus on how we act toward one another rather than what we say about God. God tells Moses that we are not to lie, steal, defraud, withhold wages, curse the deaf, or put stumbling blocks in front of the blind. Jesus says the saved will be the ones who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and welcome strangers. Jesus is more concerned about what we do for other people than he is about us acknowledging him as the Son of God. It’s almost as if he is telling us that, if we want to profess our belief that he is Lord, we should take care of the neediest among us.
Talk is cheap when it comes to redemption. If we want to ensure our salvation, it will only happen as we take care of the least among us, not simply in what we profess about Jesus. How about checking in on that elderly relative or neighbor who is effectively imprisoned at home? Or buying something to eat for that homeless person who is panhandling?
Maybe you could look into serving as a volunteer teacher in an ESL class for immigrants trying to integrate into our society. If each of us accomplished similar acts that reflect what we claim to believe every Sunday, wouldn’t our world look much different than it does today? Jesus says it could, and that is what He is hoping for from us.
Lord, help us to recognize you in our brothers and sisters suffering hardships. Deepen our sensitivity to their plight and guide our actions to ease their burdens. Grant us the grace to be totally present to the other. And when our earthly life comes to an end, may you say to us, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!