By Rev. Azam Vianney Mansha
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In 1965 an American priest Fr. Willard F. Jabusch (1930-2018) wrote a song based on today’s Gospel [Matthew 25:35-36, 40]. The lyrics of the song goes like that,
Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers,
that you do unto me.
When I was hungry, you gave me to eat;
When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.
Now enter into the home of My Father.
As we have reached to the climax of the liturgical year and now joyfully celebrating the solemnity of the Christ the King, we are gently reminded by our Lord Jesus Christ through the parable of the sheep and goat. The Parable reminds us that Jesus is present in our fellow brothers and sisters especially when they were hungry, thirsty, naked, sick or in prison and stranger in the society? Have we extended our helping hand or words of encouragement to them? Have we embraced them as they were?
Through the metaphorical language in the parable, Jesus is revealing divine truths as we need to remember that the parable is not only a simple cultural story or moral lesson but it contains divine reality. Therefore, we can say that the parable is an earthly story with divine elements. Indeed, Jesus Christ is revealing many Divine realities in this parable such as:
- The King will arrive on the eschaton, i.e., the judgment day of the world
- The nations will be gathered together by the Lord and all the faithful will acknowledge the presence of God
- Metaphorically called sheep are the faithful people who follow Christ with their full mind, heart and strength.
- Metaphorically called goats are the unbelieving people who focused on themselves and forgot to serve others.
- Allowing the sheep to enter the kingdom means the faithful shall stand at the right hand of the King at the eschaton
The list can go on and on, but the most mysterious thing found in the parable is that Jesus’ presence will be with the people who are considered the least in the society [Mt 25:40; cf., Acts 9:4]. Indeed, Jesus is affirming his mystical union with the people who are lost; the people who are weak, rejected or judged by the society and who have nothing to offer. He identifies Himself with all those people who are in great need of food, counseling, acceptance and accommodation. By serving our brothers and sisters, we are serving Jesus as He affirmed, “truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” [Mt 25:40]. Hands that serves are holier than lips that pray.
We are called by Jesus Christ to serve the least and the lost in three ways:
First, to serve the least is found in the parable, which also implies to do the works of mercy beyond borders and judgment. We are not asked by the Lord but we are obliged by our Christian call to help all those people who are in great need. Our amount of help will not be considered but our attitude of giving will be accepted by the Lord as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “ God loves a cheerful giver” [2 Cor 9:7].
Second, after telling a rich man to love the Lord with all your mind, heart and strength [Lk 10:27; cf., Deut 6:4] Jesus told him to love your neighbor as yourself because by loving our neighbor we are fulfilling the Law of the Lord as told by Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan who went out of his comfort zone to help a person; he reached to a wounded person, put oil and wine on his wounds, carried him on his donkey and spent his money on a person [Lk 10:25-37]. All in all, he did what he is supposed to do with his neighbor. He fulfilled the Law as Paul wrote to the Galatians [5:14], “for the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Third and the last, our Lord calls us to forgive our brothers and sisters seventy time seven [Mt 18:22]. We are told by Jesus to serve Him with a clean and pure heart [Mt 5:8] in order to see God.
Let us own the song this time and always remind ourselves while singing of the Good News [this time, please replace “you” with “I”]:
Whatsoever I do to the least of my brothers,
that I do unto Him.
When you were hungry, I gave you to eat;
When you were thirsty, I gave you to drink.
Now enter into the home of My Father.
May Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Mother intercede for us to serve Jesus while serving the least of our society.