And what is the last word of the Christian year?
What is the last thing to be pronounced before we begin the story again ?
Simply this . .
The Reign of Christ is at hand. It is not a matter of what we want, prefer, or how we even think it should be.
And this Reign operates under an economy that constantly judges us...Especially those of us who fancy ourselves the faithful ones, with these words:
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me 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 nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
The rules of the house - hospitality for the very ones you think shouldn't belong - or at the very least, those whose presence in your life breaches your comfort zones.
For in such as these - you meet Christ.
Failure to do so, you shun the very One whose name you claim.
This apocalyptic drama is often referred to in Biblical studies as "the last judgement." It carries words no doubt familiar to any of us gathered today. The simplicity of faithfulness to God is measured not in what creed we utter, our defense of the church from those we believe should have no place in it - the issue is not what you say believe, but what you are doing or not doing.
The least of these - those you think you're better than, politically, culturally, economically - or, those who you thank God you're not. If "there but for the grace of God, go I," is a part of any thought you have about someone else - it might well be the lead indicator that if you're going to meet Christ, you're going to find him in such as these.
The reality of this passage is not that judgment is lying in wait for us somewhere out there in the future...the Reign of Christ is right now, and ours is the opportunity,obligation, responsibility or judgement today in serving those pushed aside, ignored, forgotten, shunned, rejected, passed by, relegated to labels, counted as deserving their plight.