Amazing God, bless and direct the steps of this dear reader in the challenges and opportunities of their life; in Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.Our text for today comes from Matthew 25: 31-46, and this is the Gospel text for New Year's Day: 31 "When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. 32 Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, 33 putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. 35 And her e's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' 39 40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me .' 41 "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. 42 And why? Because - I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.' 44 "Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' 45 "He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being o verlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.' 46 "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
It was some years ago that I made a resolution to quit making resolutions. I never kept them, well, most of them. And I won't bore you with a list of those either. Yes, and losing weight is the top one on most everyone's list because of the holiday feasts and goodies that we just enjoyed. But imagine, just imagine, what God would have us resolve based on the Lectionary text for the start of 2011? The text from the gospel reading is what of the most powerful ones in all of the New Testament. Jesus speaks about final judgment and it's all based on our willingness to help, listen: not ourselves, but others. The difference is eternal. If we care about the basic needs of others and demonstrate it with love and without thinking about it, we are classified as "sheep" and our entrance into eternal reward is assured. Those who struggle with being selfish and self-centered will be labeled "goats" and will also enter their eternal reward which is stated plainly as "eternal doom."
The list is basic: Hunger, thirst, homeless, cold, sick, prison. Jesus Himself says He is all these things in the faces and lives other others, and when we help "the least of these" (another version) or as this one says, the "overlooked and ignored," we have helped Him. What an important, earth-based mandate! It assumes that spiritually we're so in tune with God and God's love for all, that we live out a life of helping and caring for others. And it's about caring for all, not just the ones whom we love.
Imagine our resolution if we were to say to ourselves, "This year, I will love God so much that I will love others and myself, in the proper way; and my life will be one that cares for others and their needs. May I never not care for those hungry or thirsty, or cold, or sick or in prison. For when I do this, I may just be helping the Lord Himself."
PRAYER: Loving God as we count down the last days of this year, help me in my spirit be ready for the New Year and how I am to live. May my life be atuned to Yours so that my every action be one of care and love for You and Yours. I know it's not easy but I will trust You. I pray this in Christ Jesus' precious and powerful name, amen.
Have a great and blessed day in the Lord!
—Rev. Eradio Valverde Jr., superintendent of the Corpus Christi District, Southwest Texas Annual (regional) Conference