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 who 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 and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 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 these 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.” (Matthew 25: 31-46)
Jesus is talking about a manner of living here, and it’s one that isn’t motivated out of the fear of Hell or the hope of heaven, but rather about a life that’s driven by an authentic love.
It’s a manner of life that recognizes that Christianity isn’t about us! It’s not about self-preservation, feeling good, or parading around Church letting everyone know how important you.
It’s the very essence of Christianity. It is the lesson that, in one form or another, Jesus preached every day. It’s the defining mark of every Christian, over two millennia, who rests now with him in eternal life.
If this isn’t crystal clear from the sheep and goats’ story, read on in the Gospel of Matthew until you get to the crucifixion. There, Jesus demonstrates the exact same selfless, genuine, and authentic love that he demands of us. He was flogged, mocked, tortured, and executed for God and for us, not for himself. It wasn’t some selfish egomaniacal stunt to gain fame and fortune. He loved God and us with his life and his death, and that is exactly what he asks of us.
His last words on the cross were those of love and forgiveness. He rose above his physical pain and thought of those crucified with him. Just as his life was never about him so was his death.
For others. For those around him, those who deserted him in his final hours, those in all future generations. For you and me.
He died on a tree of love. It might have looked like a rough hewn cross. But his blood brought it to life. A tree of love which casts a shadow on us every day.
Being sheep of the shepherd isn’t about us. Nor is it about being saved, or getting rewards, however eternal they may be. Being sheep of the shepherd is about following our shepherd’s lead, and loving others as he has loved us and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are my Savior and Redeemer. I place all my hope and trust in your divine heart. United to you, all things are possible —even my holiness. With childlike faith and trusting you without limits, I know that I will experience the triumph of your grace in my life. I wish to Make me grow in holiness today, so that I will love you, my God, above all else. Amen.”
In this reflection, let each of us weed out from our interior life any self-deception with regard to how we interpret our own progress in holiness. Let each of us strive to pursue only a genuine holiness based on heartfelt and universal love for all persons, and the zeal to serve them in the particular mission that is entrusted to us.