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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

THE LAST JUDGMENT 

(Matthew 25:31-46)

Christ, in His great love for us, has given us the scenario for our judgments after we die. It is like giving us the test questions for the final exams and the answers to the questions. Only a fool would fail such a test; and yet many Christians have chosen and will choose to be fools...by not preparing for this final exam. 

At the end times, as Christ descends from the heavens, all those who had practiced the Beatitudes will rise up to the heavens and meet Christ. Then, they will all come down and sit to judge the world. All the saints will be seated with Christ, the great saints and the, shall we say, smaller saints; those who had attained all the Beatitudes and those who had attained only the first Beatitude. 

Then they will, with Christ, judge those who have remained on earth. The sheep are placed on the right and the goats on the left. The sheep represent the meek and the humble like Christ; and the goats, being animals who like to venture to dangerous places, represent those who had gone to places dangerous to their souls and had fallen. 

Then Christ enumerates the Christian's obligation of true love and praises the sheep for having fulfilled this obligation. Then He turns to the goats and condemns them for not having fulfilled this obligation. 

What are these obligations? "To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked..." And this obligation, Christ added, will save one's soul if done to "one of the least of My brethren." 

Let us first see who are the "least of the Brethren of Christ." Then let us see what it is to feed the hungry, who is one of the least of the Brethren of Christ. 

In Scriptures, Christ raised the question, who are His brethren. And Christ's commands are summarized in the Beatitudes. Those who have attained to the heights of the Beatitudes are great saints; while those who have attained only the first Beatitude, obeying Christ's command to be meek and humble, are the least among the saints. The "least of the brethren of Christ", therefore, are the "poor in spirit", the meek and humble of heart. Those who are proud, irritable, prone to anger and hatred, the adulterer and robber, those who do not obey His commands are not His brethren.  

So when we give food and drink to the "poor in spirit," the humble and the meek...those who have attained the first Beatitude, then we have given it to Christ. And this makes us deserving of the kingdom of God. If giving to those who have attained only the first Beatitude makes us deserving of the kingdom of God, how much more if we give to those who have attained the heights of the Beatitudes. 

Now, who are the "hungry and thirsty" and how do we feed them? St. Jerome was clear when he said that this does not refer to physical hunger and thirst. It refers to a thirst for holiness, a hunger for knowledge on how to be saved, a hunger to know how to please God. And how do we feed them? Showing them by example how to be holy, how to follow Christ, how to please God. That is feeding the hungry that will put us on the right side amongst the sheep. 

We must give physical food and drink, indeed, to the hungry and thirsty. But this is not enough to save our souls because this is not the kind of feeding that Christ would refer to in the Last Judgment. We must also give food and drink to the proud and to those who are disobedient to the commands of Christ. But this is not the act which Christ considered as being done to Him. 

 

 

 

(updated 03-16-02)

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