Illustration by Phil Younk
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Jesus, the Good Shepaerd, comes to us in many disguises
Based on the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46
He didn’t come to earth wearing a gold crown and royal robes. He didn’t live in a palace with many servants. He didn’t ride a handsome white stallion and command a large army.
Jesus came as a little baby born in a stable. He lived a very poor and human life. He preached among the people and spent most of his time with the poor, the sick, the lame, the outcasts – the people who needed love and care. Sometimes he rode on a gentle donkey. Jesus taught 12 apostles to spread his message of love.
This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church year – the feast of Christ the King. This Sunday’s Gospel tells us of Jesus’ second coming as king at the end of time, when he will separate the good people from the bad people, depending on whether they were loving or unloving. Jesus uses the example of a shepherd to explain what he means. He speaks of separating the sheep from the goats. Sheep and goats were often pastured in the same field. When they were brought in from those fields, they had to be separated.
The Gospel points out that not all of us are like the sheep following the Good Shepherd for his guiding care. Some of us are like unruly goats that go their own way and pay no attention to anyone – ignoring Jesus’ teachings and selfishly thinking only of our wants and ourselves.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, tells us he comes to us in many disguises. We are to recognize him in the homeless, the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the lonely, the sick and the imprisoned. This Gospel is actually the source for many of the corporal works of mercy. They are reminders that we must be charitable and serve those who need our help by acts of love and kindness. Recall that last week we talked about using the talents, gifts and skills God has given us to lovingly and generously serve others.
This Gospel also gives us a precious truth and pearl of great price – the meaning of life. Simply put, in the end all that will matter is what we have done for Jesus and others. Jesus will not ask us how much money we made, where we lived, what awards or trophies we received, how many goals we reached or how famous we became. The question will be: “What did you do for me in others?”
Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you do for one of the least brothers of mine, you do for me.” If we live for Jesus, then we will share unending joy, life and happiness with him as king in the kingdom of heaven. To serve Jesus, King of the Universe, we must serve others.