Here we are once more, at the end of the church year. This is our opportunity to sit in the presence of God, and contemplate what it means for God to be King – Christ the King!
The story from our gospel reading is very confronting. The nations are called before the judgement seat, and sorted into the sheep, on the right, and the goats on the left.
Naturally, it is written to make people think about where they might be. Where am I? Where are you? What should we do, or have done, to be amongst the beloved – blessed by the Father?
Well, we know the answer to that, because Jesus has told us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself.” It is never presented merely as a possibility – it is a command!
The second part of the commandment is vitally important, because it fulfils the first. To love God is to love the little ones in his family of love. If we love those created in God’s image, then we love God.
The Son of Man, in glory, identifies with the poor and knows them intimately. However, we may not be quite as clear. We have to decide who they are.
- The prisoner may not be incarcerated.
- The stranger may have a familiar face.
- The naked may have clothes.
- The hungry and thirsty may have eaten, and have water.
We ourselves may fit into one or other of those categories from time to time; and this is the only place we can truly minister to Christ. We encounter him in our raw humanity, as we interact with one another.
Sometimes, we talk about God being “everywhere”. Are we thinking of a Spiritual presence, influencing all of creation with positive feelings? In this part of Matthew’s gospel, we may begin in a “cosmic” realm – with all the nations gathered to be judged by the Son of Man, but we are quickly brought to earth into the “incarnational” realm. Here we find that the presence of God is as real as the neighbour whose trees overshadow our garden; or the driver who becomes enraged on the freeway; or the beggar who confronts us in the city; or the people who steal from our op-shops; or the asylum-seeker who came by boat.
The Word of God is still becoming flesh and living among us – as our flesh and blood neighbour in need. If “all nations” are being judged, which side would Australia be? Where would our parishbe? Where will I be?
God bless you.