The Gospel reading appointed for today is from Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus talks about serving the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. This is one of the most powerful parables that Jesus ever spoke because it has implications for all of us in a very simple but profound way. What precisely did Jesus say?
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The message is as clear as crystal: God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. God’s judgement does not depend on how much we have amassed or our status or our qualifications – all these things are not as important to God as how we treat others in need. Note also, we do not have to do spectacular things. It is in the simple things like giving a stranger a meal or giving someone a drink or visiting someone in prison or in hospital. All of us can do this. But in doing these things our motives must not be calculating. The ones who were on his left (cursed) replied, in effect, Lord we did not realise that it was you. The implication is that if they had, they would have done something because otherwise it would reflect badly on them. This contrasts with those on the right (blessed) who also did not recognise it was Jesus but did it anyway. The best thing that you can do for a parent is help their child. If someone shows kindness to your child in need then, as a parent, you are enormously grateful. God loves it when kindness is shown to his children – our fellow human beings. In particular, God loves it when kindness is shown to those of his children in the most acute need. The sick, the hungry, the homeless and the imprisoned. God is the great Father who delights when His children are helped. It is no more complex than that.
Old Testament reading for this week: Ezekiel 34:11-16; 20-24
Gospel reading for this week: Matthew 25:31-46
Epistle reading for this week: Ephesians 1:15-23
Psalm for this week: Psalm 100