December 6 Mass Readings
THIS WEEK’S READINGS
God Speaks to Families Through the Sunday Readings
God Himself will shepherd the people of Israel.
The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.
Because Christ has been raised from the dead, all those who have died will also be raised.
Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes in glory, He will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today’s Gospel passage is the conclusion of Jesus’ discourse with His disciples. It is about the end of time, the coming of the Son of Man, and the final judgment. We hear this description of the final judgment at the conclusion of our liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. In the context of Matthew’s Gospel, this passage might also be read as a conclusion of Matthew’s report on Jesus’ life and ministry; the remaining chapters report the events of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes to His disciples the scene of the judgment of the Son of Man. All the nations will be assembled before Him, and He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats upon their return from the pasture. The judgments made by the Son of Man will be based up-on the acts of mercy shown to the least ones—the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill and the impris-oned. Indeed, Jesus, who suffered on the Cross, identifies Himself with the least ones.
Recall that last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ Himself.
When we read today’s Gospel in the context of the chapters that follow in Matthew’s Gospel, we learn the extent to which Jesus identifies with the least ones. In accepting death on the cross, Jesus shows Himself to be one of the hungry, the naked, the ill and the imprisoned.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we will be judged on only one thing: the acts of mercy we have shown to the least among us. Jesus identifies with the least ones; thus we serve Jesus whenever we serve one of the least ones. The Church calls the actions that Jesus described in today’s Gospel the Corporal Works of Mercy. These works are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to bury the dead, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick and imprisoned and to give alms to the poor. In these actions we show God’s compassion and mercy to those in need.
As you gather as a family, recall the list of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Talk about some con-crete examples of how your family might do these actions in your community and then discuss why it is important that we do these things. Read Matthew 25:31-46. Ask: Why does Jesus say we ought to do these works of mercy? (Because whenever we show mercy to another person, we show mercy to Jesus himself.) Choose one Corporal Work of Mercy that your family will act upon this week. Pray together that your family will see and serve Jesus in the least ones among us. Pray the Lord’s Prayer or an Act of Love.