Matthew 25:31-46 (MSG)
The Sheep and the Goats
“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”
Who do you relate to in this story: the sheep or the goats?
I think there are times when we go from being a sheep to a goat. Those very simple things that are listed are often the things we don’t do. We put so much time consuming what we think will bring more wisdom, knowledge etc. and not living what Jesus taught us to do and then we cast the judgemental finger to those who don’t do as we do.
The things listed almost need to be nearly subconscious. They need to be second nature to us. If we can’t do these then what are we doing?
I like the way it challenges some attitudes we may have and knocks the pedestals we have built right from under us because I think, as a community of people who actively live faith out, we need to have the basics down.
Yes, be learned.
Yes, thirst for more knowledge and crave that.
But don’t forget the very basic things that are said above. As quickly as we may reach for a book, or as quick as we may be to respond to what someone says, are we as quick to feed, clothe, care and/or house someone?
We are no different than anyone else and there may be far more goats than we think but Jesus never taught us to become self righteous, judgemental or condescending. If we believe that everyone is made in God's image then we need to treat everyone with the same amount of dignity and respect that He shows us. If people don’t know Him, then we need to treat them as Jesus would — not out of a wrong motivation but out of the fact that they are just as deserving of all these things as we are right now in this very moment.
Basically, we need to get over ourselves and start getting our hands dirty. We can learn far more this way. Show dignity, grace, mercy and love to others because, even though you can read about it, it is only when it is utilised that it gains traction and can become second nature.
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the new Diocesan Youth Officer for the Dublin Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.