Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.
As for you, my sheep, says the Lord God, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.(P) The word of the Lord.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose. (R)
Beside restful waters He leads me, He refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. (R)
You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (R)
Surely, goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. (R)
Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.(P) The word of the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples; "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, "Come, you 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.""
"Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?" And the king will say to them in reply, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.""
"Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you accursed, 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 no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.""
"Then they will answer and say, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?" He will answer them, "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
A young priest was assigned to a countryside church. One day when he was making visits to Christian families in his area, he met an old man on the road. The priest asked him, "Are you a Christian?" "No. I am not. The Christians live two farms down", he said. "Oh! Okay. Are you lost then?" the priest asked. "No. I am not. I have been here for more than sixty years", the man replied. The priest pursued further, "Are you ready for Judgment Day?" "When is it?", the man asked out of curiosity. The priest said, "It could be today, tomorrow or next week." "Well, Father," the man said, "If you find out for sure when it is, please let me know. Probably my wife will be ready."
We all look forward to special days - birthdays, holidays, wedding day, Father's Day, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and so on. Do we also look forward to Judgment Day or the Last Day? I don't think so. Most of us would be quite happy not to have to talk or even think about it. Even if we do, we may like to talk about going to heaven, almost as if everyone is going there, but, perhaps a bit afraid or feel uneasy or uncomfortable to talk or think about the other place, hell. But today as we come to the end of the liturgical year with the celebration of Christ the King, we are reminded of the subjects we often like to avoid talking about - death, the last day, judgment, eternal condemnation, hell and so on. Today's readings tell us that there will be a time when we will all have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be judged for not just for our faith but also for what we have done in life. While on Earth, people could pray to the Lord for our various intentions and needs, but we will not have the luxury of having the best lawyers to defend us on the Day of Judgment. Instead we will stand before Jesus Christ, our Lord and Judge and be either rewarded or punished for what we have said and done.
In today's gospel Matthew narrates God's judgment in the parable of the sheep and the goats. As all the people are gathered before the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, he will separate them - the good from the bad, with the sheep on the right and the goats on the left, and then he will judge them. He will praise some and condemn others. He will say to those on his right, "I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you visited me." To those on his left, He will say the exact opposite, "I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was naked and you did not give me clothing. I was a stranger and you did not welcome me. I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me."
What is interesting is that both the sheep and the goats will express surprise at Jesus' judgment. Both the groups of people will respond, "Lord, when did we see you in need and help you or did not help you?" In response, Jesus will explain, "Whatever you did or did not do to any of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did or did not do to me." The Lord will make them recall the times when they had treated well or ignored the Son of Man who was present in the least among them. His judgment will be based on compassion and love, or the lack of it. He will say to those on the right that they are saved and to those on the left that they are condemned to eternal punishment.
The parable is calling us to see Christ or hear the voice of Christ in every person we encounter and most especially, in the needy around us and to respond with compassion and love for them. Jesus doesn't talk about how blessed we are when we visit our friends and families who are sick, or how wonderful we feel when we give good things to our family and friends. Most of us would faithfully, willingly and happily care for people who are special to us because it is our duty and is expected of us and also because often times we receive favors in return. Instead, Jesus tells us how blessed we are when we do something good for the least among us - the ordinary, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the outcast, the weak and the alien.
To encounter the least of our brothers and sisters, we don't need to travel very far. They are everywhere. No doubt most of us do care for such people because from childhood, elders in our church and family members have been teaching and encouraging us to see Christ in the poor and the suffering. As a universal church we have been reaching out to millions of brothers and sister throughout the world. For centuries, in the name of the Church, hundreds of thousands of priests, brothers, sisters, lay missionaries and volunteers have been caring for the sick, the poor, the underprivileged, the prisoners and all the needy regardless of their beliefs, race or color. Let us take the opportunity today to reaffirm our support for our Church with our prayers, attendance, gifts, service and witnessing. At the same time as individuals we should also take the time to examine our own compassion and love for the poor, the needy, the vulnerable and the suffering. Let us be conscious of our shortcomings and express remorse for our sins, and follow the commands of God to show compassion and love to all who are physically, mentally, emotionally and materially weaker than us, so that on Judgment Day we will also hear our Lord say the same thing He said to the sheep on His right, "Come, you are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."(P) Amen.
God Bless You!