Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)
Verse 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Verse 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, Verse 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Verse 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; Verse 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, Verse 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Verse 37Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? Verse 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? Verse 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' Verse 40And the king will answer them, '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.' Verse 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; Verse 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, Verse 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Verse 44Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Verse 45Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' Verse 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Those who follow the traditional liturgical calendar have now come to the end of the church year, whose readings have focused on the Gospel according to Matthew. Personally, I’d rather not think of Jesus’ parable of a Day of Judgment with wheat separated from chaff and an unquenchable fire, with references to weeping and gnashing of teeth, and sheep being separated from goats. Nor as a privileged citizen of the U.S., do I really like the idea of all the nations being gathered before God and groups of people being separated one from another. If that were the end of the story, it would mean all are doomed. Being held accountable before God will end badly for goats, and frankly, for the rest of us as well! But by the grace of God, redemption and reconciliation come through our crucified and risen Christ who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In him we have life—both now and forever. Thanks be to God!
O God, while we deserve your judgment and wrath, you continually shower us with grace and mercy. Thank you for sending your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to redeem and reconcile this world to you in love. Amen.