Sunday, November 22, 2015

Spirituality: Separating the Sheep from the Goats

Today’s Gospel is Matthew 25:31-46, part of which is, “[The Son of Man] will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (25:32)

People on earth are intermingled, and not only intermingled in that the righteous live side-by-side with the wicked, but they are also indistinguishable. Between the righteous and the wicked there is no apparent difference. Even as in wintertime you cannot tell the healthy trees apart from the withered trees but in beautiful springtime you can tell the difference, so too each person according to his faith and his works will be exposed. The wicked will not have any leaves or show any fruit, but the righteous will be clothed with the leaves of eternal life and adorned with the fruit of glory. In this way they will be separated by the heavenly shepherd and Lord. The earthly shepherd separates animals by their type of body, whereas Christ separates people by their type of soul.

Source: From a fragmentary patristic work on the Gospel of Matthew, as cited in Thomas Oden, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary: Matthew, page 231.