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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

THE LAST JUDGMENT (Christ the King)

(Matthew 25:31-46)

The feast of Christ the King is the end of the Catholic Liturgical calendar. We begin the liturgical calendar again with the first Sunday of Advent. 

The feast reminds us of the end times when Christ would come, no longer in a humble form as on Christmas day but in all His glory as a Divine Judge. And the sequence of events goes this way. The Christians who have obeyed all His commands will go and meet Christ in the sky to come down and judge the world. Then there are those who would be assembled on the right hand of Christ, called sheep. Then those who would be on the left, called goats. 

Those who will not die and simply rise up in the sky to meet Christ are those Christians who have learned all the commands of Christ and have obeyed them perfectly. In their lives they always sought what pleased God and did it. 

Those that will be on the right side, the sheep, are those Christians who did not learn all the commands of Christ but obeyed to the best of their abilities what they knew. They always sought what pleases God but did not quite discover everything that pleases God. They are, likewise, those non-Christians who also sought to please God in all things but did not quite learn what pleases God. What made them both sheep is the fact that in their lives they sought earnestly what pleases God though they did not succeed all the time in knowing what this is. 

The goats, those on the left side, are those who always choose what pleases themselves rather than what pleases God. 

All the three, the perfectly obedient Christian, the sheep and the goats were all once upon a time sinners. But none of them would be judged based on their sins. The goats were condemned, not because they were adulterers, fornicators or murderers...but because they lacked of good works. Good works, accompanied with prayer and self-denial, sort of erases past sins. So the sheep, because of their good works, had their sins erased; while the goats, because they had no good works, had no eraser for their sins. The goats' crime is the absence of an eraser which is easily available to all. 

The mercy of God consists in that He had given us beforehand the criteria by which we shall be judged. Why, that is like giving the students the test questions before an exam. Anyone who does not work on these really deserves to be punished due to his negligence.

Those who will rise up to meet Christ are saved due to their obedience to all the commands of Christ. But how are the sheep saved when they have not obeyed all the commands due to their ignorance of the complete teachings of Christ? Christ said, "As long as you did it to one of these the least of my brethren..." And who are the brethren of Christ? Those who have obeyed the commands of God. 

So the sheep on the right hand are those who have performed good works on someone who is obeying the commands of Christ. When God sees a sheep (whom Scriptures described as outside the fold but belong to Christ, or the wounded and diseased sheep or the lost sheep) He sends a saint to be a recipient of his good works. Or, St. Paul says, God sends sometimes an angel to be the recipient of the sheep's good works. It is for doing good works for such angels or saints that these sheep are saved. (Note: the lost sheep is not the Christian sinner who keeps on doing his will rather than God's will. Such is called a goat.)

The sheep, whose knowledge is imperfect, would ask: "When did we see you hungry?" Christ answers: "When I sent this holy man to you. For who is my father and mother and brethren--those who keep my commands, the saints. Whatever you did for the saints you did it to me."

 

 

 

(updated 03-16-02)

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