Pastor's Corner: Just want to put my hands on Jesus!
Last updated 11/20/2020 at 8:51am
This Sunday, Nov. 22, marks the end of our Church (Roman Catholic) year; we call this Sunday the celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe. The Gospel reading for this special Sunday is from the Gospel of Matthew 25:41-46, very often referred to the final judgment or the reading about the separation of the sheep and the goats.
This is not one of my favorite gospel readings. If indeed "gospel" means "good news" then I believe those who used this term did not really reflect on this chapter and these specific verses. If they would have ... well?
Sheep on the Son of Mans right and goats on Son of Mans left. To those on the Son of Mans right he says, "you who are blessed inherit the kingdom prepared for you. For I was hungry and you fed me, 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 ... ."
You know the whole story, don't you? This is probably one of the most well-known parables Jesus used. Yet it is one of the most difficult to address with people. At least addressing in a way that people don't feel condemned, because all of us fall short in doing these corporal works of mercy. Perhaps there is another way of examining this parable that will make it a bit more palatable while still getting across the point that Jesus was trying to make.
I was recently reading a reflection on this Gospel passage by Eleonore Stump and she started reflecting on the Incarnation - God becoming human in the person of Jesus. Ms. Stump reflects on how the incarnation is a moment in time and is locked into a certain place, with certain people involved.
How wonderful it must have been to be the mother of Jesus and be able to hold and cuddle God, to serve him and meet all his needs and have him be dependent on you. How wonderful it would have been to be one of the friends of Jesus to sit at his feet and listen to his wisdom filled voice or just to rest your head on his chest at the disciple John did. How must of it have felt to be able to go to him and cry at your sinfulness and anoint his feet with your tears and fine oil and be forgiven. What a gift it must have been to have God come into your house and speak to your daughter, touch her and bring her back to life. What a gift it must have been to be in the very presence of God. It is such a shame that only a very few people in the course of all humanity actually got to touch God.
Perhaps this perspective on the parable of the Sheep and Goats can give us another way of reflecting on the call to give drink, feed, clothe, visit while in prison or sick and to welcome the stranger. Maybe this way of reflecting can help us to see these corporal works of mercy not as work but as an opportunity to experience the incarnation in the same way as those who lived when Jesus walked the earth. After all Jesus said, "whatever you did for one of the least brother of mine, you did for me."
Caring for one another is something we could use a little more of these days.
Deacon Tim Maroney
St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church