Common English Bible
31-33 “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34-36 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37-39 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41-43 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44-46 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life."
Thoughts from Monica: In America, capitalism, the military complex, and a bootstrap-mentality are the waters we swim in. This parable, when read with that Western lens, might be misinterpreted as an individual’s scriptural ‘get out of hell free card.’ But as I read this text, the word “nations” stands out to me (v. 32, multitude, company). It seems it's not about an individual’s decisions but a community's practices… and the consequences of ‘othering.’
So I think this is Good News. Jesus did not seem to intend this story to be directives toward blessing / damnation (heaven / hell) based on belief / disbelief. This passage is also likely not about sorting out an individual's personal destiny based on behavior or effort.
At the center of the story we meet a King who declares that communities of compassion exist (a nation of the Shepherd’s “sheep”) to generate blessings as they intentionally attend to the needs of the least, his own chosen family.
It is Jesus Christ, a Palestinian refugee, who compassionately identifies most with those on the edges. His holy imagination is one of a nation of belonging and belovedness. A community that moves from rivalry and toward genuine peacemaking… That both acknowledges the value of theories, yet prioritizes the need for hands-on (sometimes messy) practice… That overcomes fear of scarcity by deliberately recognizing abundance everywhere.
Together we break free from such shackles of fear and embrace a freedom that welcomes a collective well-being, an ever widening circle of belonging.
Outward Mindset Application
Who is one person you’re seeing as an object instead of a person? What is one thing you can do to connect to / see their humanity this week?
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Activism (Loving God through Confrontation):
Set aside some time for personal reflection / meditation. Celebrate where you’re living into your personal convictions and ideals.
Questions for Reflection
Consider a recent action that didn't align with your values or faith. Is there a blind spot that needs to be adjusted for?
Given your individual gifts, abilities, and talents, how can you personally help foster a compassionate community that brings blessings by focusing on the needs of those marginalized?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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