The Jesus Seminar prints today’s Gospel story in black.
It’s the voice of
Matthew’s community, not Jesus.
They write it down, probably in
shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem,
making a point about
what Jesus’ teaching means to them.
They look around and see the outcasts of
the poor and the weak, the ill and the abandoned.
after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70
made them outcasts, too.
So they express what Jesus would say,
where they are, what’s happening around them,
and how they apply Jesus’
teaching to their own
obvious, as Catholic scripture scholar Raymond Brown points out,
verdict is based on the treatment of deprived outcasts,”
the very treatment
Matthew’s community is experiencing
not only from the Romans
but also from
the leaders of their own Jewish religion.
They understand the message of
to demand a very different standard from the “insiders,”
leaders both religious and political,
who pay more attention to the rich and
than to the whole people of God
and the Way of
his Last Judgment story in the context of monarchy,
but we don’t have that
context here in our lives today.
Pope Pius X set up this feast of Christ the
King in 1925
in the middle of a conflict between the Vatican and the state of
about who was in charge.
That controversy was settled four years
later with the signing of the
so that church-state context
is gone, too.
The worldview in Matthew’s time
allowed for kings and
thrones and angelic escorts on high.
That’s gone, too.
The facts of our
place the context of today’s story
firmly into the
world of our
Not kings, not judgments in the sky.
What’s left are
outsiders and insiders,
exclusion and inclusion,
and the clear message of
nothing can separate us from God’s love
except our own failure to
love and serve others.
Our tradition is full of examples of people
identified by the sheep-goat metaphor of today’s Gospel passage.
On the one
hand we have someone like Francis of Assisi kissing a leper,
and on the other
hand we have religious and civil leaders
conspiring to burn Joan of Arc at
still recognize those insiders and outsiders,
those sheep and
Some high-profile sheep:
• Protesters this weekend
standing vigil at Fort Benning
to remember the victims of the School of the
• TUSA, ABLE, and TCC—Toledoans United for Social
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Toledo Community
and other local groups
working to protect poor children from
countless lower-profile sheep. I look out and see each of you:
• meeting the
emergency needs of the poor for food, clothes, and housing;
• contributing to
organizations like Catholic Charities
and the Campaign for Human
and Habitat for Humanity
that empower the poor to build new
lives and better neighborhoods;
• tending to how and where you buy what you
being careful that your purchases don’t support injustice
labor, human trafficking, harmful labor practices,
• taking the time to visit friends and family in hospitals
and nursing homes,
write to relatives and neighbors in college or in the
military or in jail,
and to listen to the joys and sorrows of the people you
meet along the
And what about
In Matthew’s story, neither the sheep nor the goats
they were doing.
They both ask when it was that they did or didn’t do the
But the image Matthew uses
makes the sheep and goats clearly
if only they would look around.
Just as we can easily
tell the difference between a robin and a turkey,
so we can look around our
and see who’s being excluded
and who’s doing the excluding
who’s doing the including,
or who’s not being served
and who’s failing to
and who’s trying to serve
The hard part,
is looking in the mirror
to see if I am being a sheep or a
And the hopeful part
is seeing that God is in
so there’s always another connection with the Divine
as we continue along the Way.
Holy Spirit Catholic
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor