Matthew 25

Lesley Show (Creative Commons)

 

As pastor of my last parish assignment at Good Shepherd, I had the good fortune of creating a staff position exclusively dedicated to adult faith formation. A group of staff and volunteers passionate about adult faith formation designed the position, advertised the position and eventually a small number of candidates was selected to be interviewed. We met some very nice individuals through that process, but in one of the interviews a comment one of the candidates said sealed the deal for me. The candidate was asked to specifically comment on Matthew 25: 31-40:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

She responded, “If peace, justice, service and outreach are not natural outcomes of faith formation then something has gone terribly wrong.”

She was absolutely right, and shortly after that interview we hired Cynthia Drury to fill that exciting new position. She and her core volunteers created a vibrant new ministry for our parish. Those were wonderful times – and that ministry did indeed produce not only fruitful opportunities for folks to grow deeper in their faith, but also led to some pretty neat service opportunities for adults to love and serve – including service trips to Appalachia.

My friend Pat Holliday calls Matthew 25 the final exam! None of us want to get to the end of our lives only to discover we got this one wrong! It’s not always easy to find ways to love and serve people who are hungry, thirsty, in need of clothing and homeless – but they are all around us. Sometimes it takes a little creativity to find ways to serve the way Jesus challenged us to serve. Sometimes focusing on those who are most near and dear to us is exactly what Jesus wants of us.  Sometimes we are called to serve a little outside of our own neighborhoods and comfort zones. Sometimes we are called to do a mission trip, or work in a homeless or hypothermia shelter during winter. Sometimes we’re called to love people who live in nursing homes or the hospital or the prison. Sometimes we’re called to read books to kids in the local elementary school or offer to be surrogate grandparent for kids who could use a few more big people in their lives.

There’s simply no shortage of ways to serve and people to love. The bottom line is that we’re all called; and it doesn’t appear to be a request. It is a command. Yikes! Sometimes Jesus commands us to love as radically and as messy as He Himself was willing to do. In fact Jesus doesn’t ask any of us to do anything He wasn’t first willing to do Himself. The scriptures are packed with one example after another of Jesus hanging out with those who were on the fringes of society, and He seemed to love doing so. He knew it ticked off the religious leaders of His time, but He didn’t care and chose instead to lend an ear or a helping hand to an individual who society had somehow cast off. I think one aspect of Matthew 25 that touches my heart the most is that Jesus shows us that people matter. Jesus shows us that every single person matters. God I love Jesus. He loved to hang out with folks like me. And you.

Let’s pray for each other that we will all live the life that Jesus has called us to live – that we will all be the people God has created us to be. To love and serve as He calls us to do in Matthew 25.

Peace friends,

Chuck

 

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