Year A Christ the King Matthew 25 2011
The Sheep and the Goats
Like it or not, judgment is a fact of life. That is true whether we are talking about the histories of nations or the events of our own personal life. If we break the law, then society will judge us. If we live immorally--drink too much, engage in sexual promiscuity, live a lifestyle of constant stress--then our bodies will judge us. We simply cannot escape judgment in life.
Jesus rarely spoke about the final judgment, but on one occasion he did paint a picture for us in one of his stories. The parable that I just read gives a strong jolt to those who are heavy on doctrine but short on ethics.
A shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, said Jesus, so too shall there be a great division on the final day. Those on the right hand will be allowed entrance into the kingdom, while those on the left will be denied it. And the great surprise is that those who thought they were religious turn out to be not as good as they thought, and those who thought they failed were told they did a better job then they supposed.
I would like to suggest three points that this parable is attempting to make this morning...
- We Are to View Each Individual as if They Are Christ.
- The End Criteria Will Be Simple Acts of Kindness.
- We Are Judged by the Good We Do Not Do
Life's Take-Home Final
There are two types of students. There are those students who jump for joy when they hear the words "take home final." And there are those students who are not thrilled with joy but filled with dread when they hear the words "take home final."
At first blush it seems a no-brainer. Who wouldn't prefer a take home exam? There is no time crunch. There is unlimited access to resources for checking facts and figures. There is the ability to modify, or even completely change, responses after thinking about them for a while.
But the students who dread the take home final know there is a down side to all those benefits. With all that extra time and unlimited information and fluid flexibility, there come greater expectations. With a take home final there is never a firm answer to how much more the instructor expects.
Instead of a quick couple paragraphs, obviously a longer, more extensive, more exhaustive presentation is rightly required. With access to unlimited resources who is to say how many examples are "enough" to prove your point? An exam given in a closed class room for an hour or two puts all students at the same advantages and disadvantages. It's a level playing field. A "take home final" by definition will be "taken" at a different "home" by each student. A "take home final" forces students to take their exam in their individual real words — whatever those worlds might be like.
Why is it that we are always warned "don't take your work home with you"? That caution is not about teachers correcting papers on the living room couch or real estate agents updating their listings online while watching Sunday night football. "Don't take your work home with you" is our attempt to draw a line between who we are in one part of our life versus who we are in another part of our lives. "Don't' take your work home with you" tries to disconnect what we do 9-5 from who we are 5-9.
For Jesus' disciples that is impossible. In today's gospel text Jesus makes it clear that Christian life comes with a "take home final"...