Advent: Day 21

Daily Office Lections: Zechariah 8:9-17; Revelation 6:1-17; Matthew 25:31-46

Today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew is, to me, one of the most sobering and challenges passages in all of Holy Scripture. It points out both the reality of the final judgment (that Jesus Christ is coming again in glory to judge the quick and the dead); and the characteristics of those who will enter everlasting blessedness.

As Christians, one of the primary ways in which we show love for God is by loving others. Put another way, the Great Commandments to love God and love others are inextricably linked. Loving God is demonstrated in loving others, particularly the poor, sick, and imprisoned.

As James, the kinsman of our Lord says, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2). And the discussion of faith and works in the Epistle of St. James is done against the backdrop of sheltering and feeding our brothers and sisters in Christ. A lively faith, that is, a genuine faith bears itself out works.

It should be noted that the hungry and thirsty in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats refers not only to the physical but to the spiritual as well. We love others by preaching the Gospel to them in word and deed, by telling them about Jesus and their need for him.

It's a tall order. And there are not many of us who can read a text like Matthew 25 and feel like we live up to the high calling of being Christian. The key is not be discouraged or overwhelmed, and it's certainly not to mitigate the force of the Scriptures; but rather to continue to follow Christ asking him to continue to mold and make us into His image.

Fr. Matt+