The Preferred Side
Remember your mother telling you when you were a child, “Clean your plate! There are poor children in China that would love to eat what is left on your plate.” There was a lesson in what she was saying. She was asking us to be grateful for what we have and not waste it, but she made us aware of the poor. If you have worked among the less fortunate either in serving a meal at St. Ben’s, or volunteering at the Guest House, or the House of Peace, or the Open Door Café, or one of the food pantries in the Milwaukee area, or the Adult Learning Center, those whom you served taught you to see the world through their eyes. Their view of reality is far different from ours. This is what the poor of the Dominican Republic taught me—viewing the world through their eyes. They are the only ones who can teach us this lesson. It is a lesson that has stayed with me all this time. I consider it to be their gift to me.
The gospel we have just heard is the culmination of Jesus’ teaching. Following this parable, we move into the Passion and Resurrection Narrative in Matthew’s Gospel. All of what Jesus was teaching prior to this is summed up in the parable of the Judgment of the Nations. Great attention has to be paid to this parable because of its placement in Matthew’s Gospel. The parable of The Judgment of the Nations is an application of the two great commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).”
What we have here is not an economic policy. It is not a leftist agenda or even a liberal one. Jesus put forth the basis of how we are going to be judged at the end time. Jesus, who is the King of the Universe, is in all people and within us. Both this gospel and our first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel remind us about others who need our help and care. We honor Jesus, the King of the Universe by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the ill and those in prison. This is the greatest honor we can give to Jesus, the King of the Universe. As we focus on one another we focus on Jesus Christ. We do so because every person has a dignity and a value given to them by God. Do we not pray, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”? It’s God’s statement about us. He is pleased to dwell among us and within us.
In truth this parable of the judgment scene is calling us to active love. It is an invitation from God for our salvation. “As often as you have done this to the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me.” John Kavanaugh, SJ stated, “These words that challenge us are the very words that save us.” We are given only one lifetime to accept our salvation and that is this life we are now living. Doing to the least of our brothers and sisters we are accepting the salvation Christ won for us on the cross. If you were to die today, what side of the throne would Jesus put you—on the right or on the left?
Sincerely yours in Christ,
P.S. Advent is a great time to get on the right side of the throne. Don’t miss this opportunity!
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