All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
(Matthew 25:32-33 NKJV)
Sheep and goats, always the subject of fantasies in the representation of divine judgment. For many, it is also a dilemma, in asking on either side. Chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew offers us three great parables: that of the ten virgins, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the separation between sheep and goats, the object of our meditation. The earthly story of Jesus is running out. In fact in the next chapter we meet the story of the passion. With these parables Jesus gives his listeners some images of the final judgment that God will decree at the end of time. And it is precisely by thinking of that day, when He will operate the separation, that each of us will want to be placed at the right hand of Christ, among those who belong to him, who humbly have listened to the voice of the Good Shepherd in life and put his indications into practice .
In this perspective, however, it is necessary that what in the life of each of us does not belong to him or does not conform to his word be banished. In some cases it will take courage, even sacrifice, before our life is laid entirely on the altar. We should never be afraid to approach the throne of Grace and confess our mistakes, if there are any (and there are!). We have the courage to repent, not to live in falsehood and not to become like the Pharisees. They stood at the corner of the streets and waved their fasts and their prayers. Jesus did not just call them "sepulchres", places of death, but also "whitewashed", because not only did they have death in their hearts, but they tried to make it seem beautiful. The children of God will be neither sepulchres nor, even less, whitened sepulchres. We wish to be men and women washed by the most precious blood of Christ Jesus. If we belong to the Lord, our life will be in conformity with his teaching, a light set to shine in the dark. When we are not noticed, because we get lost in the mass, becoming any, let's worry. It means that we have become "goats".
Trying to make a distinction between the two sheep breeds, the sheep is a flock animal, therefore associating it with the believer, could represent the person inserted in the community context, who trusts and lets himself be led by the pastor. The goat, on the other hand, is an individualistic animal, which tends to do its own thing: you choose the grass to graze, the paths to take. In the bible the wild goat has a bad reputation, and the Hebrew word means goat and demon at the same time. In the two previous parables God appears at the end and judges a whole life according to what he finds at that moment: the lit lamps or the multiplied talents. In this parable God acts differently: all life is taken into consideration. He was beside me, step by step, and saw how I behaved when he was in the poor, in the brother, in the needy. It is striking the attitude of the sheep, who have done good not for convenience, but spontaneously. In fact, they are stunned by the statements of the Son of man: "When ever ...?!" The goats instead believed they had salvation in their pockets. They had done everything they had to do, according to them, and they are amazed when they hear "I don't know you". May these words help us to consider how we are living our Christian faith: from sheep or goats?
Weekly Bible reading plan
13 May 2 Kings 17-18; John 3: 19-36
14 May 2 19-21; John 4: 1-30
15 May 2 Kings 22-23; John 4: 31-54
16 May 2 March 24-25; John 5: 1-24
17 May 1 Chronicles 1-3; John 5: 25-47
18 May 1 Chronicles 4-6; John 6: 1-21
19 May 1 Chronicles 7-9; John 6: 22-44
May 15 marks the International Family Day, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1994 with the intention of celebrating how important the people closest to us are. I believe it can be, from the Christian perspective, an opportunity to place emphasis on its value and on its being the foundation of society: "God sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68: 6 NKJV).