Judge Not

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The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

 

Matthew 25:31-46  

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 the 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.”

 

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, I come before you asking for your guidance in offering my time, talent, and treasure for your glory. Help me hear what I need to hear. Help me see what I need to see. Help me grow from what I experience, so that I can say and do what you desire to fulfill your holy will. Thank you, Lord, for helping me seek to understand, rather than be understood, so I can offer myself patiently and lovingly in my daily encounters. 

 

Encountering Christ:

 

  1. Separating Sheep from Goats: The Gospel reads, “He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Sheep are often known for following, goats for wandering. Sheep are also often known for being soft-hearted, goats for being hard-hearted. We all encounter “goats” in our daily lives, and sometimes we ourselves resemble goats. As followers of Christ, our role is to strive to be like sheep in their open-hearted fidelity to Christ. Then, we are to become Christ to all the “goats” we encounter in our daily lives. After all, when we are able to be kind and patient, by God’s grace, others might be drawn to follow Jesus. Our goal is not to separate or judge, but only to reflect the Good Shepherd to others. 
  2. Loving for Christ:  Jesus says in the Gospel, “Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” St. Francis of Assisi included a line in his well-known “Saint Francis Prayer” about seeking to understand, rather than be understood. Sometimes it is hard to understand why family, friends, even those we try to help, perhaps even those living on the street, make what we deem poor decisions. We think to ourselves, “If you did not drink, you would not have health problems.” “If you were not late for work every day, you would not have been fired from your job.” “If you had not stolen, you would not be in jail.” St. Francis wants us to seek to understand, as we love, assist, and care for the least of our brothers, because “what we do not do for one of these least ones, we do not do for him.” 
  3. Loving All God’s Creatures: St. Francis said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” The kind acts we do for all of God’s creatures, we do for Christ. St. Francis was the patron saint of animals, and noted that even plants and animals are part of God’s creation. We are called to treat everything God made with respect, kindness, and understanding as well, seeing God’s glory in all of them. 

 

Conversing with Christ: Dear Lord Jesus, you have blessed me with time, talent, and treasure. Some days I may deem my talents simple. Some days I might deem my time scarce and my treasure meager. Let my goal be to offer them all for your glory, no matter how I perceive their value, so that your will be done. 

 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will not judge the people I encounter on my journey, even though I may not understand the decisions they make or the lives they lead. I resolve to be a follower, not a wanderer. I resolve to be soft-hearted, not hard-hearted. All of my time, talent, and treasure I offer to even the least of my brothers, knowing I offer it all to you. 

 

For Further Reflection: For more information on St. Francis and his life, visit https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50.

 

Karen Meiman, a former newspaper writer, editor, and photographer, is a mother of four children and lives in a log cabin on fifty acres in Northern Kentucky. She can be reached at kyclone@aol.com.

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