Today we are given the image of the Good Shepherd in both the first reading and in our Gospel. The Good Shepherd tends to his sheep, ensuring they stay together, that they are well pastured and watered; he ensures the ones who are sick or injured are not left behind. However, in these readings, the Good Shepherd also comes to judge as the Son of Man.

The parable in the Gospel is like an instruction manual for us as Christians, if you notice both the sheep and the goats call the Son of Man ‘Lord’. The message from Jesus is quite simple, it is not enough to call Him ‘Lord’, we need to put our faith into action and go out of our way to love.

God, our Creator, wants us to care for everything and everyone that He has created, good intentions are not enough, God wants action. When we hear this parable about how we will be judged, it should prompt us to do a bit of self-reflection. But not as a bit of a tick list. This is not about keeping score, we can’t afford to say well I visited so and so in hospital last year, so that is done for now, and I donated to the foodbank last week. No, the message is that we should never walk by. Jesus tells us whenever we do this for the least of my brothers then you do this to me and this works both in the times when we show those in need love and in the times when we fail to love them.

In the second reading St Paul reminds us that our salvation comes from Christ and that Jesus has destroyed death. In our baptism we go down into the grave with Christ, through His resurrection we have the hope of eternal life; all we need to do is love God and love our neighbour.

This week, may I suggest that we all review how much we actually put our faith into action.

Do we adopt a tick list approach? Marking off in our mind when we help those in need.

Do we reach out to the sick, the lonely, the poor? Do we see them as our brothers and sisters?

Do we ever give up on those who we try to help, who just seem to always be in need?

The times when we feel put upon or exasperated are the times when we need to decide to love. It is only through loving our neighbour that we can fully encounter Christ. The more in need our neighbour is, the more we need to love. This week Jesus is pleading with us to see His face when we look at those in need, if we see Jesus and reach out to help, then we have hope of eternal life, but if we fail to see Jesus or choose not to help; then we risk eternal damnation. Put simply, do you want to be a sheep who belongs to the Good Shepherd or a goat who doesn’t?

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Solemnity of Christ the King: Christ the origin and goal of history

CCC 440, 446-451, 668-672, 783, 786, 908, 2105, 2628: Christ as Lord and King
CCC 678-679, 1001, 1038-1041: Christ as Judge
CCC 2816-2821: “Thy Kingdom Come”.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The success of the Diocesan Diaconal Conference which takes place this weekend in Marwell.
  • Sebastian, Aria and Vienna, who were baptised last week in St Bede’s.