The Gospel of the Last Judgment: Sheep vs Goats

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“To see Christ in another man, whoever he is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life.”

The Gospel of the Last Judgment is the third Sunday in the Triodion, the pre-Lenten season prior to Great Lent, which prepares us for repentance.

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, “Come, O blessed of 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, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, 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, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?” Then he will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

– Matthew 25:31-46

***

Neediness disgusts me, yet I am an incredibly needy person. To be hungry means you are never satisfied, you always want more. This hunger exists within all of us. In fact, it is the definition of what it means to be human. From the moment we are conceived to the day we die we are hungry. A child, or even a pet for that matter, is in some ways a burden since you are required to sustain their existence at all times. You must deny yourself sleep, self-care and autonomy, giving your life for another. This is why I believe women and mothers are incredibly powerful, they are independent and capable of caring for others since they are life-giving.

Neediness is found most obviously in the homeless, the sick, the old and the imprisoned. They literally reek of desire, starvation, and despair. Need is a black hole of never-ending craving that continues to want and want. It becomes a ball and chain of addiction, anger, anxiety, guilt, fear, self-love and doubt that paralyzes and cripples your spirit, diminishing your ability to live and glorify God. So long as it exists it will never be satisfied. The needy, sick, old, homeless, and imprisoned exist within all of us. They represent our shadow self, our dark side that is distant and starved of the love of Christ. Our shadow self is a life-taking parasite, dependent and incapable of caring for others since it thinks only of itself.

I suppose the difference between the sheep and the goats is how much they give and how much they take. When we begin to stand up and care for the hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned, strangers, we start to come alive and move forward. When we show needy people a love that has been denied to them we uphold the responsibility to give in a real and concrete way.

The only way to help others is to help yourself.

The only way to help yourself is to help others.

The only way to stand up: act and depend on the love of God.

Awaken: Great Lent begins February 27th.

When Christ comes to judge us, what will be the criterion of His judgment? The parable answers: love – not a mere humanitarian concern for abstract justice and the anonymous “poor,” but concrete and personal love for the human person, any human person, that God makes me encounter in my life….

Christian love is the “possible impossibility” to see Christ in another man, whoever he is, and whom God, in His eternal and mysterious plan, has decided to introduce into my life, be it only for a few moments, not as an occasion for a “good deed” or an exercise in philanthropy, but as the beginning of an eternal companionship in God Himself.

What are your thoughts?

2 Comments on "The Gospel of the Last Judgment: Sheep vs Goats"

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Mark
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Thank you for writing this article. I really like your overall message, but don’t totally agree with the comment that “women and mothers are incredibly powerful, they are independent and capable of caring for others since they are life-giving.” Not all mothers are capable of caring for others, nor are all women made to be mothers. Overall, I get your point but I wanted to share my thoughts on this specific argument.

Genevieve
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Another amazing article! This is so true about neediness. It’s an uncomfortable fact but important to acknowledge and deal with. May God bless you on your journey through Great Lent!

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