23rd February

Today’s gospel is the well known parable of the Final Judgement: Matt 25:31-46.

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escortedJudgement by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me”.

Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me”. And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’

In my few words at the convent Mass, I said that Jesus has an enlightened attitude to examinations – in this parable he gives us the examination questions in advance. One way to sum it up would be in the statement of St John of the Cross: In the evening of our day we will be judged according to love. In terms of our home/domestic life particularly, St Paul’s counsel to “Bear one another’s burdens – in so doing you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” is helpful. Pope Francis’ exhortation regarding indifference to the plight of the poor (see the Ash Wednesday blog) is highly relevant.

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