God the Judge … to Save

22 November 2020 – 34th Sunday in O.T. – Christ the King – Year A
Matthew 25:31-46

Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau

The gospel passage, today, is a judgment scene, a literary genre used both in the Bible (cf. Dan 7) and in the rabbinic literature. The aim of this literary genre is not to inform about what will happen at the end of the world, but to teach how to behave today. The message Jesus wants to convey in the gospel is: the years of man’s life are precious, a treasure to be managed well. No one should go wrong because life is just one: Jesus suggests how one must live.

The list of people to help—the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned are  what really count in the eyes of God. Who is the ideal successful person in our society? The powerful, the rich, the affluent and the celebrities who are wanted by the TV cameras. How does God think about a successful person? At the conclusion of the story of our life, when each one is alone with oneself and with God, only love will be precious. The life of each one will be considered a success or failure according to the commitment of the person in the elimination of six situations of suffering and poverty: hunger, thirst, exile, nakedness, sickness, and imprisonment.

A detail is carefully highlighted in the story: none of those who have done these works of mercy has realised of having done them to Christ. Love is true only if it is disinterested, even if it is free of any suspicion of complacency; who acts in view of the reward, even that of heaven, does not yet genuinely love. And the sentence pronounced indicates with strong images the very serious danger of wasting life. The judgment is to make us think, to open the eyes, to show God’s judgment on the decisions we make today.

Hell exists, but is not a place created by God to punish bad people at the end of life. It is a condition of unhappiness and despair resulting from sin. The question, therefore, is not who will be counted as sheep and goats at the end of the world, but in what occasions today we behave as sheep and behave as goats. We are sheep when we love our sisters and brothers; we are goats when we neglect them.

Translated by Fr. John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF