Sunday (November 26): Come.. inherit the kingdom prepared for you
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious
throne. 32 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, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right
hand, but the goats at the left.34 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; 35 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, 36 I was naked and
you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and
you came to me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 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.'
41 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; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 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.' 44 Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 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.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-17
11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I,
I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As a
shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been
scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue
them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of
clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the
peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them
into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of
Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the
country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the
mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they
shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall
feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd
of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring
back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will
strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over;
I will feed them in justice. 17 "As for you, my flock, thus says
the Lord GOD: Behold, I judge between sheep
and sheep, rams and he-goats.
Meditation: Do you allow the love of Christ, who is your
Lord and King, to rule in your heart? Augustine of Hippo (354-430
A.D.) said, "Essentially, there are two kinds of people,
because there are two kinds of love. One is holy, the other is
selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him."
Jesus came not only to fulfill the law of righteousness (Leviticus
19), but to transform it through his unconditional love and mercy
The Lord Jesus proved his love for us by offering up his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. His death brings freedom and life for us - freedom from fear, selfishness, and greed - and new abundant life in the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God's love to purify your heart and transform your mind to think, act, and love others as the Lord Jesus has taught through word and example?
The lesson of separating goats and sheep at the end of the
Jesus' description of the "Son of Man", a Messianic title which points to the coming of God's anointed Ruler and Judge over the earth (John 5:26-29, Daniel 7:13ff), and his parable about the separation of goats and sheep must have startled his audience. What does the separation of goats and sheep have to do with the Day of God's Judgement over the earth? In arid dry lands such as Palestine, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. At nightfall, when the shepherd brought the sheep and goats to their place of rest, he separated them into two groups. Goats by temperament are aggressive, domineering, restless, and territorial. They butt heads with their horns whenever they think someone is intruding on their space.
Goats came to symbolize evil and the expression "scape-goat"
become a common expression for someone bearing blame or guilt for
others. (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual
expulsion of a sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.)
Jesus took our guilt and sins upon himself and nailed them to the
cross. He payed the price to set us free from sin and death. Our
choice is either to follow and obey him as our Lord and Savior or
to be our own master and go our own separate way apart from God's
way of truth and righteousness (moral goodness).
We cannot remain neutral or indifferent to the commands of
Christ. If we do not repent of our wrongdoing (our sins and
offenses against God and neighbor) and obey the Gospel we cannot
be disciples of the Lord Jesus nor inherit his kingdom of
righteousness, peace, and joy. Separation of the good from the bad
is inevitable because one way leads to sin, rebellion, and death
and the other way leads to purification, peace, and everlasting
life with God.
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
"And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd
separates the sheep from the goats." So then, people on earth are
intermingled, and not only intermingled in that the righteous live
side by side with the wicked, but they are also indistinguishable.
Between the righteous and the wicked there is no apparent
difference. Even as in wintertime you cannot tell the healthy
trees apart from the withered trees but in beautiful springtime
you can tell the difference, so too each person according to his
faith and his works will be exposed. The wicked will not have any
leaves or show any fruit, but the righteous will be clothed with
the leaves of eternal life and adorned with the fruit of glory. In
this way they will be separated by the heavenly shepherd and Lord.
The earthly shepherd separates animals by their type of body,
whereas Christ separates people by their type of soul. The sheep
signify righteous people by reason of their gentleness, because
they harm no one, and by reason of their patience, because when
they are harmed by others, they bear it without resistance. He
refers to sinners as goats, however, because these vices
characterize goats - capriciousness toward other animals, pride
and belligerence." (excerpt from INCOMPLETE
WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY 54, the Greek fathers).
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