The Last Judgement

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place 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.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46)

Scripture Study

25:31–46 Jesus’ prophesy of the Last Judgment unfolds at two historical levels. (1) He initially foretells the judgment of Old Covenant Israel. This involves his “coming” to Jerusalem (a.d. 70) as the Shepherd who separates the faithful sheep of Israel from the wicked goats (10:23; 16:27–28; cf. Ezek 34:17–22). (2) He ultimately foretells the General Judgment at the end of history. This will involve Christ’s Second Coming and the general resurrection of all people before his throne to be blessed (25:34) or cursed (25:41) according to their deeds (Jn 5:25–29; Rev 20:11–12; CCC 1038–39).

25:40 you did it to me: Jesus identifies himself with all men, especially the poor and afflicted. Thus by serving others we serve Christ; by performing works of mercy we hope to find mercy (Jas 2:1–13). Indeed, Jesus’ own ministry was marked by concern for the disadvantaged (4:23–24; 8:1–17; 11:4–6).

25:41 the eternal fire: A description of hell. Here the wicked are consigned to everlasting punishment with the devil and his fallen angels (cf. Mk 9:48; 2 Pet 2:4; Rev 20:10; CCC 1033–35).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today is the scene of the Last Judgment. We hear that the specifics are a matter of love concretely expressed: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And we know the famous connection that Jesus makes: “…whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

There is something awful about the specificity of these demands. This is not love in the abstract, having affection for “humanity.” It is caring for that person who is homeless, for that person who is ill, for that person who is in prison.

We do not take our money, our social status, our worldly power, into the next world; but we do take the quality of our love. You might consider doing an examination of conscience at the end of each day, and use as your criterion this passage. Perhaps put it up on your wall or post it next to your bed so that you see it before you go to sleep.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.