Jesus doles out some tough love in today’s Gospel, which echoes the equally tough love offered by the prophet Ezekiel. Don’t get me wrong, Christ the King coming to lead his sheep into the eternal kingdom is both a powerful and comforting message. But then the other shoe drops: Am I a sheep or a goat? Because as it turns out, according to Scripture, the goats are not going to fare so well. We can “baaaaaa” all we want, but at the end of the day if we have not lived up to the challenges God has put before us—caring for those who are hungry and naked and sick, loving God first—we will “go off to eternal punishment.”
Our world these days is too often about being a GOAT (Greatest of All Time), but Jesus turns that idea on its head. We are not called to be the GOAT among family or coworkers or neighbors, flaunting our success and power to the envy of all. No, we are called to be like the lost sheep, pulled back from the perilous edge of a rocky crag by the Master’s voice. Jesus does not ask us to perform feats of strength or earn piles of money or rise to the highest level of our profession to earn his love. He asks us to let go of the need for all of that and turn back to him with all the tenderness and love we can muster, to follow where he leads.
From the November 2023 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2023). Used with permission.