You know, it’s always hard to proclaim this Gospel because I have to try to avoid looking to my left and right in order not to give the impression that this is the last judgment! But seriously, although I’ve heard this Gospel so many times, one thing has kind of leapt out at me this week as I’ve been thinking and praying about it. One detail I always have missed was that this was a judgment of the nations – it says, “all the nations will be assembled before him.”
This idea that we’ll all be judged together is a pretty consistent one in Catholic theology. The Church always teaches that we come to salvation together, or not at all. That’s why it’s important that we spread the Gospel. That’s why it’s important that we live the teachings of Christ. That’s why it’s important that we drag our children in to Mass every week, or that we invite the neighbor or friend from work to join us at the Eucharist. Our Salvation depends rather heavily on the salvation of everyone else, and that’s not just the Church’s job, that’s everyone’s job. The world has to see why salvation is important, and if that’s going to happen it’s going to happen by all of us living lives of integrity and joy and faith not just here in Church, but also in our jobs, schools and communities. Everyone has to see the gift that salvation is.
So the real significance of giving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, care to the stranger and all the rest is that their salvation, and ours too, depends on it. So on this last Sunday of the Church year, we have to look back and see how well we’ve done this. Have we been good witnesses of the Gospel? Have we lived it? We want to dwell in the house of the Lord forever, and we have to take as many people with us as we can.