Day 248 | Sunday, 22 November 2020
The assigned Scripture readings for Christ The King Sunday are: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23 and Matthew 25:31-40.
Matthew 25:31-40 Judgment of the nations
31 “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
WHERE IS JESUS? The “early” church would struggle again and again with the person and presence of Christ. And out of their wrestling would come the four Gospels and the letters that make up the rest of the New Testament.
One of the purposes of Matthew was to show the Jewish people who Jesus was. Another reason he wrote this Gospel was to teach the young struggling church exactly what it would mean to follow their Lord. So, Matthew laid his case out in Matthew 5–7. These are the teachings of Jesus and out of them would flow all he would say and do. Matthew ended those words at the end of his seventh chapter by giving the parable of the house built on rock or sand. Those that will endure, Matthew said, are those who not only hear the words of Jesus but act on them as well (Mt 7:24).
So, Matthew gives us the setting of the last parable he has Jesus speak. Jesus sat down with his disciples on the Mount of Olives. When he gave those last words, he must have stared out (down?) at the city of Jerusalem. Listen to what he told his reluctant followers there at the end. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, sick, and in prison. His followers protested, of course. When did we see you hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or in prison? And Jesus left no doubt as to what he meant: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
In today’s Gospel, the problem is seeing. People simply fail to see Jesus when he stands right in front of them in the needs of others. In a way, they not only failed to see Jesus but also failed to see their neighbors as nothing less than the claim of Christ upon their lives.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of the Christian life is the challenge of seeing Jesus when he appears, as he appears, before us. We sometimes complain that God is elusive, difficult to know, silent, and evasive. Perhaps we ought to confess that the problem is on our side – we are those who tend to say, even when face-to-face with God– “Lord, when did we see you?”
Lord, take us by the hand today and show us what you would have us do. Every day we are besieged by the hurting problems of this world. We confess that often we simply tune out the troubles of the world in order to survive. We wonder how you were able to move through the madness of your world without sometimes being crushed by the too-muchness of it all. Most of us have not learned to do that. So bring us back today to our real purpose and our real task. Sometimes the needs are under our own roof, sometimes down the street – often in far away lands with pinched starving faces we will never see. Show us the least of these. Show us how to reach out even as your son, Jesus did. Amen.