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.”
As we continue our spiritual spring training, the Lord calls us to focus on loving our neighbor.
This reading today is very important in the Church’s teaching on salvation. Jesus and the Church teach that faith is primary for salvation, but also our faith must be demonstrated by good works. In this reading, Jesus talks about dividing the sheep (those who inherit the kingdom) and the goats (those who go to the eternal fire). What are the criteria Jesus uses for this separation? Feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and imprisoned…. Whatever we do for the least of God’s children, we do it for Jesus.
We do not deny the importance of having faith in Jesus as the Son of God. Scripture is very clear about the importance of placing our faith in Jesus and confessing His holy name. However, nor can we deny the importance of loving our neighbor. Just as we hear from St. James, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17), Jesus calls for us to put our faith into action by loving our neighbor, especially the poor and those who have no voice in our society.
And this makes sense to me that God would want us to love our neighbor. Parents love it when their children treat each other with love and respect. I have spoken to many parents who lament the fact that their adult children do not speak to one another. How much more would God our Father want us to love and respect our brothers and sisters in Christ? It would be too easy for us to say, “I believe in Jesus and now I’m saved”. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
My brothers and sisters, we were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to love and to be loved. I know that my heart rejoiced as I served my brothers and sisters in the Philippines. In the same way, my heart rejoices when I serve people here. We are hard-wired to give our lives away in love.
As a Christian in spring training, how can I better love my neighbor today?
Who is the Lord calling me to love and serve today?
Do I keep my faith private?
Do I truly see everyone as my brother and sister?
Have a blessed Monday!