Well, the usually irreverent Mark Twain once said, “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand” [source: Barbara Schmidt website of Quotations]. I suspect that it was a segment like today’s Gospel that became a “rare” occasion when the Bible had meaning for him. But it seems hard to Misunderstand today’s lesson of Jesus about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and other works of mercy. The passage reminds us to be like Mark Twain, and to be very concerned about our own behaviour.
The “Goats” in the story, by suggestion, had done all the “pious” things that they thought would earn them their heavenly reward. They went to Mass every day. They said a daily Rosary. They never forgot to say their daily prayers. And they’d id their best to avoid contact with sin and sinners. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, something very important is missing.
The “Goats” had neglected to do something that the “Sheep” had already done. The “Goats” had acted well in “avoiding” sin and sinners; but they had done nothing in the area of works of mercy. Jesus is crystal clear about our responsibilities as his disciple. We are to actively participate in the mission of Jesus, reaching out to those in need. This is particularly true regarding those we meet; but it also applies to those we do not meet. In other words, you can help the poor in other locations by giving to Catholic Charities, or some other worthy charitable group who has access to the “really” poor and needy.
The readings at the end of each Church cycle are all about the End Times. Let them send a warning shiver up your spine, like Mark Twain may have experienced. Don’t get caught being unprepared! You know what is expected of you; do it! The “goats” will not enjoy eternal life in heaven.
Friends, at this time of the Church year it’s worthwhile for all of us to consider the truth that an “evil doer” also includes a “non-doer” of works of mercy?