“When the son of man comes in his glory escorted by all his angels…” Matthew 25:31-46
What’ll the world do? Send up fighter jets to intercept him!
Here Jesus portrays himself as “coming in his glory” and “all the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from
goats” – these are words spoken before his suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. So he’s painting a picture of a future cosmic event, his second coming when “everything is to be put under his feet” 1 Cor 20-26,28 (Second Reading).
But as Jesus paints this picture we simultaneously glimpse some fascinating details about the kingdom of God – windows and doors are opening before us.
One detail that’s obvious; there is ultimate justice.
All will stand before him – believer and unbeliever – and we will be separated, sheep from goats. The criterion for judgement is how we treat the least of our brothers and sisters. Ouch, that’s going to bite us! Everything will be judged from the poor man’s perspective.
There’s no need to worry about somebody getting away with murder – I’m using murder here figuratively, as in the banks got away with murder! We only ‘get away’ for a very short time, even if we never get caught for the dishonesty that netted us €40.00 or €40,000.00 there’s no place to hide. The king of the universe waits. Life is very short as anyone over fifty starts to realize quickly!
While we might ‘get away’ personally for a time the wider community (society generally) never gets away. This is the root of all crime and sin – self becomes the only arbitrator. There’s no common good, just me and mine, and increasingly as we’ve seen in Ireland it can extend to family and even out to our employment with devastating consequences for the nation, but disproportionately for the poor.
The thief, the fraudster, the murderer, the bully has no future except to put right the wrong he’s done; “when you go to court with your opponent, try to settle with him on the way, or he may drag you before the judge and the judge hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff have you thrown into prison” Lk 12:58-59.
This holds true for all, there are no exceptions.
And legality means nothing to the universal King. State legislation is irrelevant. There’s no such thing as it’s ‘just business’ (so often used in the business world to justify itself). There’s only what’s right and wrong, there’s no conservative or liberal, there’s only true or false.
So, there is no need for us to judge. We can confidently leave it to the universal King-judge.
Of course, as I used to say to the prisoners in Portlaoise, you’re the blessed ones, at least now while you’re locked up and deprived of your liberty you’ve got the opportunity to start putting right the wrong you’ve done, to settle with your opponent while still on the way to the court.
This is all that God desires of the criminal-sinner.
In the end we decide what we receive, “because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back” Lk 6:38. if we persist in sin (which is putting self first, temporarily of course!) we get a judge, if we back away we get a shepherd Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17 (First Reading), and a shepherd will save his sheep, he might even die trying!
Oh… he did die!