19th February: Treating the least of these...


Matthew 25:31-46 (Holy Communion)

A parable is a story. You may have heard the saying “What is the point of the story?” That is a good question to ask when you hear a parable. So, what is the main point which this parable is making here?

Let us look at the use of "sheep and goats.” The main reason why both are used here is that they look similar. Yes, sheep are often dirty and brown like goats, and from afar, you can't tell the difference.

Like the other parables in this chapter (ten virgins, talents) the difference is only revealed at the “last day.” Till then, you can’t tell the difference. Here, Jesus surprised his hearers. The basis of separation or differentiation, righteous and unrighteous - rests on how the people treated the king incognito (Matthew 25:35-36).

It has often been shown that in Matthew’s gospel the expression “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” can only refer to the least of his followers (See Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:6,10,14). In other words, the sheep and the goats as exposed for what they are by the way they treat Jesus’ followers, especially those who are marginalised. When people persecute the followers of Jesus Christ, they are persecuting Jesus Christ himself (Acts 9:4).

Jesus’ continual identification with members of His own body should affect the way we see another brother or sister, especially those who are powerless or persecuted. Metaphorically speaking, Jesus is being nailed all over again all round the world, even today.

The point of this parable is how love (again) is at the heart of true discipleship. As I have mentioned in the devotion on Ash Wednesday, our relationship with God and our fellow bothers and sisters is inextricably bound, here and into eternity.

This is similar to John 13:34-35. How will people know that we are His disciples? You should know the answer.

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