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Monday, March 2, 2009

The Least of These

Today's Gospel (the parable of the sheep and goats) is one that we've heard many times. But it was only in the last year that it was pointed out to me who is actually being judged in this story. I had always applied the lesson to me personally and to others as individuals, and there is nothing wrong with this interpretation. But in the text it is actually the nations who are being judged. In my bible, the subheading even reads: "The Judgment of the Nations." Matthew 25:32 reads: "...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."
With this in mind, how do we as a nation care for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, ill, or prisoner? It is by these criteria that we will be judged, both as individuals and as a nation. As Christian citizens of this country, such standards should affect the laws and policies of the land that we work toward. But it doesn't stop with the political realm. Perhaps more importantly, we need to strive to create within our nation a culture of compassion and charity, especially towards "the least of these." This is in stark contrast to the culture of individualism and selfish pleasure seeking, regardless of the cost to others that seems so prevalent in our country. But to bring about this change we must start first with ourselves and our families, which may then spread to our communities and beyond. As others witness Christ's love in us perhaps they will be inspired and encouraged and be given the grace to find the joy of living the compassionate Christian life.

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