Second-Last Sunday in the Church Year 2017

November 19, 2017

Bible Text: Matthew 25:31-46 |

Series:

We are not judged faithful simply because we say we believe in God. What good is it if you say you believe in God, but you are not kind to your spouse, your children, your co-workers, or even strangers? As St. James tells us, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” On the other hand, others may say, “I have done many good things. I’ve been kind to many people. I’ve helped all kinds of folks. And I give money to the poor, and treat strangers with kindness.” If you must tell me about your works to prove your faith and justify your righteousness, then you do not yet have true faith. Just as true faith must come alive in love, so also good works must not be advertised, lest you shine the spotlight on yourself. Our Lord Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Works to glorify the Father is glorified—that requires faith mixed with true humility, and love combined with genuine meekness. Faith mixed with true humility says, “It is not I, but Christ who lives in me, that does these things.”

Faithful humility and loving meekness will be on display on the Last Day. For how will the faithful, blessed sheep answer the kindly, generous King? The faithful are stunned. They are dumb-struck. “When, Lord, did we do what you say? When did we show you any kindness, any love, any mercy?” As they see it, they failed the Lord. They certainly did not treat every soul as if they were dealing with the Lord. But that is the nature of true faith. True faith lives for another without caring about how it will come back later. And coupled with true faith is true love. True love sacrifices everything—reputation, pride, will, body, the whole self—for the good of another. True love conforms itself completely to whatever benefits the other. True love asks nothing for itself, instead seeking out new and different ways to please and satisfy and please another.

Again, consider the blessed faithful on the Last Day. They are commended because they sacrificed themselves entirely to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. They gave no thought to germs or what others would think or if the other person would give a little something in return. They thought nothing of themselves, instead concerning themselves only with what was best for whomever they met. And they do this because that is how the Lord God deals not only with the faithful, but with all men and all creation. And these sanctified faithful see it, consider themselves unworthy of the Lord’s many kindnesses, and yet cannot help but live the mercy they’ve received.

So on the Last Day, the faithful are blessed and given the Father’s kingdom, but not because they worked for it with all that they did, and not because they believed it was theirs to possess. The faithful are blessed and given the kingdom because they lived the Christ within them—living for others, living the mercy they had received—astounded and grateful and joyful that the Lord had lived for them and, in the greatest of mysteries, in them and through them by faith.

Our Lord tells us about the blessed faithful so that we might strive to match their faith. And to make that possible, just as He did for them, He feeds our faith—a faith born in the waters of Holy Baptism, fanned from embers into a mighty flame by the power of the Word, and, yes, fed in our Lord’s body and blood—so that you may imitate their humble faith and meek love. In doing so, you live no longer for yourself, but for Him by living for others with the same mercy, love, and compassion that He has so richly and generously poured over you and into you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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