Fr Dominic
Parish Priest

It seems appropriate that at the end of the Church’s year we have a very challenging Gospel. The image of the whole world assembled before Jesus Christ and being divided into sheep and goats is a very powerful parable. The pastoral setting of ancient Palestine provides the context for understanding the metaphors and similes used by Matthew’s Jesus to unveil the ‘End Time’ reign of God. Shepherds tended to the sheep and goats each day. They grazed side by side in a common pasture. At the end of the day however, the shepherds separated the sheep from the goats. The sheep were stronger than the goats and were better able to thrive and survive the cold nights. The goats needed to be sheltered. So Matthew’s audience would understand the need to separate the sheep from the goats but they would be surprised by the judgemental aspect of the parable. The criterion for favourable judgement is acceptance of Jesus Christ Jesus Christ and his mission. Jesus addressed the parable to his disciples and his point is unmistakable . There will be a judgement, and those who rejected Jesus will be rejected.
To follow Jesus is to follow the path of love. The love that Jesus showed us by his life. Love for the poor, the oppressed, the refugees, those discriminated against. A love for justice, a love to establish a Kingdom based on true equality and full justice for everybody. As we come to the end of the Church’s year and prepare to begin a new year we need to examine ourselves. How would we pass the sheep and goats test presented in the Gospel? Did we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, did we make strangers welcome, did we clothe the naked, did we care for the sick, visit those in prison? To honestly examine our conscious is a very salutary thing to do. New Year resolutions!!!!