The sheep are the “good guys” and the goats are the “bad guys”. Sounds Ok unless one is Hispanic from this area and happens to enjoy Cabrito. The story is just an analogy.
Jesus described the Last Judgment and the criteria that will be used to determine whether we will go to heaven or to hell. Notice that both the sheep and the goats shared a common ignorance of recognition for the Lord. “When did we see you?...” They did not recognize Him. They looked but did not really see. We share the same handicap. We also fail to recognize the Lord, especially if we choose not to look. Perhaps that’s the reason we avoid going to the hospital, the nursing home, visiting a hospice patient—because we don’t like to see people who are hurting. We don’t know what to do, what to say, how to feel. Usually, when we are faced with a situation, over which we have no control, we feel helpless—uncomfortable. We try not to look, like a defense mechanism—comes naturally—since we like to be in control, especially of our feelings. Feelings have nothing to do with the story of the Gospel. Acts of kindness—actions speak louder than words. (I just attended the funeral of one of my aunts. At the wake the relatives were going over to the coffin and several remarked, “Look how good she looks.” She had had Alzheimer’s for over 10 years. Poor aunt suffered much during her life. Who cares what she looked like in the coffin? Aren’t we supposed to be concerned about how we look before God? Certainly she did her Purgatory while she was alive. Her acts of kindness were many. Like Mother Teresa of Calcutta—she got her hands dirty. No one had to proof to her that Jesus was in the people dying on the street. She knew, she could see, and she loved them.
Nothing wrong with the recitation of prayers, fidelity to holy hours, pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Without a doubt, all such devotions make us better people. But the stuff that gets us to heaven is how we treat the least among us. So difficult to recognize Christ in the person that smells badly. We have our prejudices about those who come to this Country without proper documentation. God only knows just how challenging a nagging mother-in-law can be. Yet, where we do not expect, where we’d rather not look—there is the person of Christ. They do not have to be destitute—the least among us can be right under our nose.
“For I was hungry, thirsty, lonely…” Regardless of our economic level—we all share the same human condition. The story is about people taking care of people. [One day a man said to God, “I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.” God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin, sickly, miserable. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach the pot of stew but because the handle was so long, they could not get the spoons into their mouth. The man shuddered at the sight of misery. God said, “you have seen Hell.” Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. There was a large round table with a delicious pot of mouth-watering stew in the middle. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished, laughing and having a wonderful time. God said, “You have just Heaven.” Love only requires one skill. The people learned to share and feed one another, while the greedy only think of themselves.”]—very similar to the story in the Gospel. God could easily provide for all of humanity; but He wants us to provide for each other.
In the acts of kindness everybody wins. Our responsibility is to keep the eyes opened. Christ is usually where we least expect.