Week #3 Reflection: Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46
Verse to memorize
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for Me.”
In teaching the people of Israel, Jesus used images that were very familiar to them. Here, in order to illustrate his role as judge, calling himself the Son of Man, he uses two images, the shepherd sorting the sheep from the goats and the cosmic king on his throne. Our Lord wants the people (and us) to know that how we treat other people in our daily lives matters a lot to Him. He also wants us to know about the judgement and the eternal reward or eternal loss that will come after we stand before Him at our deaths.
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.” (NAB)
1. Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd. What do shepherds do? We don’t have very many shepherds in the US, but we do have sheep farms, pastures and someone cares for the sheep.
2. In this passage He also calls Himself the King of All Nations. What do kings do? Well, today most kings have little power. In the ancient world of Jesus, kings had great power, even power of life and death.
3. When Jesus talks about “coming in all his glory and all the angels with him”, and “the nations assembled before him”, what scene is he painting for us? Did you guess the end of the world? You are correct! At Mass, in the Nicene Creed, we say what we believe that “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. This is the doctrine of the Last Judgment.
4. In the passage above, Jesus uses the figures of sheep and the goats. How are sheep and goats different? (Ans: sheep are obedient and goats are hard to control) The sheep and goats stand for people. What will those of us who obey “the Good Shepherd” inherit? (Ans: eternal life in His kingdom of heaven)
5. These’s something else here. What else? Clue: look at vs. 35 & 36. To inherit eternal life (“heaven”) Jesus wants us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick, visit those in prisons and shelter the homeless. What does the Catechism call these charitable acts? (Ans: the Corporal Works of Mercy)
6. What is the big surprise in this teaching story of Jesus? Answer: Each needy person that we help or fail to help, is really Jesus in disguise. But we have to use our eyes of faith to see Him in disguise.
Courtesy of The Bible Project