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.’
Sheep and the goats have different needs and different responses to their surroundings. Sheep and goats may graze together during the day but they must be separated at night. Sheep can survive outside while goats must be kept indoors, especially on cold nights. They have very different personalities, too. Sheep will likely stay with their group and follow their shepherd, while goats have minds of their own and tend to “run wild” if they aren’t controlled.
People are very much like sheep and goats, some follow the crowd or their leaders while others do their own thing and even rebel against leadership.
This passage about caring for the stranger, doing for others, is a familiar one for most of us. None of us wants to be compared to the goats, and yet we often ignore those who need special care. Like goats we go after what we want when we want it and don’t think about who else is affected by our decision.
All is not lost. This is a message of love and hopefulness. The challenge we are faced with is not IF we will learn how to love and care for others. The question is WHEN? We are faced with making decisions every day, and our teacher reminds us: ‘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.’
By Kathleen Stolz
For Pondering & Prayer
The image of being a sheep and following the Shepherd is woven throughout the Bible. When we look in the mirror, we see each of us has certain qualities of both. This week, which one do you think you resemble more? Why?
Take time this day to think about your choices and all the lives that are affected by them. There are people who created the clothing you are wearing, the food you are eating, the mail that is delivered to your home, the waste products that you discard, the water and air that you pollute, etc. Pray for all the people who are tangentially connected to your choices and ask God to watch other them.