How He Will Judge Us

By Marc Massery

Sunday, Nov. 22, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
•Ez 34:11-12, 15-17
•Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
•1 Cor 15:20-26, 28
•Mt 25:31-46

When we die and face the judgment of God, Christ the King will not judge us based on our financial success, on the number of degrees we have obtained, or on our social media following. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, the story of the sheep and the goats, we learn that the Lord will judge us based upon our response to human need. 

In the story, Christ tells His disciples what the end of time will be like. He’ll sit upon His throne and assemble everyone before Him, separating us into two groups, as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats. He’ll say to the righteous: 

Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you … 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. (Mt 25:34-36)

As you might remember, the righteous in this story respond surprised. They didn’t realize that when they fed the hungry or welcomed the stranger they were ministering to Jesus. They had simply seen their fellow man in need. Without calculating the cost, they had allowed their love for others to direct their actions. The Lord tells them, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

Then Jesus turns to the unrighteous and says:

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. (Mt 25: 41-43)

Like the righteous, the unrighteous are also caught off guard. They 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?” (Mt 25:44). They imply that if only they had known the needy were Jesus, they would have helped. While the righteous gave from their hearts without thinking, the unrighteous were shrewd and calculating. They only would have helped their fellow man if it meant praise, publicity, or a reward. And helping others with an ulterior motive is hardly charity.   

Saint Faustina frequently demonstrated reckless love for the needy. In her Diary, she wrote about a poor young man who came to the main entrance of the convent. He looked emaciated. He was barefoot and dressed in tatters, frozen from the cold and the rain. When the young man asked for something to eat, St. Faustina brought him a bowl of soup. She wrote: “As I was taking the bowl from him, he gave me to know that He was the Lord of heaven and earth” (1311).

Jesus doesn’t ask us for the impossible. He asks us for simple acts of mercy performed out of love for or fellow man. If we haven’t been making acts of mercy a priority, the upcoming holiday season is a good time to start. 

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