“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40)
As we come to the end of the Liturgical year, our Lectionary readings help us to focus on the return of Christ and the end of the world. In the light of His Second Coming as well as of the present pandemic chaos, we ought to think about what the Lord would have us do, how He would have us live. Should we be holed up in our houses watching TV or reading books of surfing the Internet? Or should we be doing Kingdom work, work which can be done even when we are confined by the rules of social distancing and quarantine?
Jesus’ parable about the separation of the sheep and the goats helps us to see what we should be doing. Jesus spoke this parable to allow both His listeners and us to evaluate our lives as a way of ascertaining our standing before the Lord. Just because one can claim status as one of God’s chosen or one who has faith does not mean that the claim is valid. What Almighty God says about our status is more important than human words or promises.
Yet we can know we are in Christ by looking at the works our faith produces, works that bestow mercy, love, and compassion on our fellow human beings. Although we know that we are saved by God’s grace through faith and not by our works, our works are still important. They are the outward indication of faith that is genuine. These works we do are done are not done for human honors and acclaim, to atone for sin, or to salve a guilty conscience as is the basis for good deeds that many do. Our deeds are not done to earn us salvation or merit. They are done because we are saved by grace. They are done out of love and thanksgiving for the Lord Jesus and what He has done for us. Therefore we can gladly use our talents and gifts in the service of others especially in this pandemic. We can bring the comfort and assurance of Jesus to others who are fearful and confused so that they may know the mercy of God.