Friday, November 21, 2014

An unusual judgement

NOTE: Sadly, José Antonio Pagola has informed his readers that this will be his last weekly gospel column. After 34 years, he says he wants to use his time for other endeavors.

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 23, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

The sources are unambiguous. Jesus lives turned towards those he sees in need of help. He is unable to pass them by. No suffering is alien to him. He identifies with the least and the helpless and does what he can for them. Compassion comes first for him. The only way for us to be like God: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful."

How can we be surprised that, when speaking of the Last Judgement, Jesus presents mercy as the ultimate decisive criterion on which our lives and our identification with him will be judged? Why would it be strange to us that he identifies himself with all the poor and wretched in history?

According to Matthew's narrative, "all nations" will appear before the Son of Man, that is, before Jesus, the merciful one. No distinction is made between "chosen people" and "pagan people." Nothing is said about different religions and cults. It's about something very human that everyone understands: What have we done for all those who are suffering?

The evangelist doesn't exactly linger when describing the details of a judgement. What he highlights is a double dialogue that sheds great light on our present condition and opens our eyes to see clearly that there are two ways to react towards those who are suffering -- either we take pity and help them, or we turn a deaf ear and abandon them.

The speaker is a Judge who is identified with all the poor and needy: "Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me." Those who have approached a needy person to help them, have drawn near to him. Therefore they are to be with him in the kingdom: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father."

Then he addresses those who have lived without compassion: "What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." Those who have turned away from the suffering, have turned away from Jesus. It's only logical that he now says to them: "Depart from me." Go your own way...

Our lives are being judged right now. We don't need to wait for any judgement. We are approaching or turning away from those who are suffering now. We are approaching or turning away from Christ now. We are deciding our fate now.

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