“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘LORD, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46).
During my National Youth Service Corps Programme at Kebbi state, I taught Computer Studies to Junior Secondary School students. One day I taught them parts of a computer, writing on the black board as I taught. With what I had written still on the black board, I asked the class for the parts of a computer system. The answer I got from a student was “Window.”
I shared this with my colleague and roommate and he told me his experience. He taught Senior Secondary School students factors of production and asked the class to give him the factors. The first answer he got was “Cassava” and the second “Millet.” The students were not able to answer because most did not properly understand the English language.
But we understand English language, the language with which our bibles are written yet we are failing. The biblical passage above is what I can call an “expo”. It exposes the standard with which we shall be judged on the last day. The sad news is that a lot of us are failing with the answers ‘on the board’.
People are living with ‘every man for himself’ mentality while neglecting the needs of their neighbour. At Mass we pray, “I confess to Almighty God…for what I have done and what I have failed to do.” To neglect to do good is a sin.
The biblical passage above did not mention that the goats actively maltreated the hungry, thirsty, or stranger. They failed to do what they should have done.
In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), it was not said that the rich man maltreated or hit Lazarus. He ignored him; he neglected Lazarus’ needs which he could easily have provided. In the end he suffered torment. Let us reflect to see where we have been neglecting to do good especially where our neighbour continues to suffer as a result of our negligence.
The works of mercy are ways in which we show mercy to our fellow men. We are God’s hands and feet in this work.
In most Catholic churches, after Sunday Masses, you find St. Vincent de Paul society members hitting their boxes and shouting, “Help the poor.” This is itself an opportunity for the work of mercy for the money or items given to the society is used to serve the poor and help those in need. Other opportunities come up from time to time.
No one would love to hear, “Depart from me,” on the last day. The good news is that we have the “expo” that will ensure we are not told that. Let us not fail when the standard has been exposed.