When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be brought before him; and as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
The king will say to those on his right,
Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to see me.
Then the righteous will ask him,
Lord, when did we see you hungry, and give you food; thirsty, and give you something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome you; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to see you?
The king will answer,
Truly I say to you: whenever you did this to one of these little ones, my brother or sister, you did it to me.
Then he will say to those on his left,
Go, cursed people, out of my sight into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.
They, too, will ask,
Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?
The king will answer them,
Truly I say to you: whenever you did not do this to one of these little ones, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go into eternal punishment, but the just to eternal life.
In this parable, we are not asked to compare the sheep from the goats in a literal sense, but to understand the distinction between what is a true disciple and what is not. The parable is in fact instructive regarding the demands of the gospel, which follows a particular sequence. It begins with seeing the needs of the poor and the needy. Then in seeing, we are moved with compassion. Finally, compassion motivates us to act. Jesus showed this pattern in many instances during his public ministry. When he saw the hungry and the needy, he was moved with compassion towards them, and then he acted for their sake. Jesus did not only identify with the poor, he saw himself in them. Thus when we minister to the poor, the needy, the sick, and the lonely, we are in fact ministering to Jesus and are living the gospel. But when we are blind and insensitive towards the poor then we have totally misunderstood the good news. Can we allow the gospel values to stretch our hearts that we may provide an open space of compassion to the less fortunate among our midst? Doing so is living our true discipleship.
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