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How to Be a Really Good Lamb

When  the  Son  of  man  comes  in  his  glory,  and  all  the  angels  with  him,  then  he  will  sit  on  his glorious  throne.  Before  him  will  be  gathered  all  the  nations,  and  he  will  separate  them  one  from another  as  a  shepherd  separates  the  sheep  from  the  goats,   and  he  will  place  the  sheep  at  his  right hand,  but  the  goats  at  the  left.  Then  the  King  will  say  to  those  at  his  right  hand,  ‘Come,  O  blessed of  my  Father,  inherit  the  kingdom  prepared  for  you  from  the  foundation  of  the  world;  for  I  was hungry  and  you  gave  me  food,  I  was  thirsty  and  you  gave  me  drink,  I  was  a  stranger  and  you welcomed  me,  I  was  naked  and  you  clothed  me,  I  was  sick  and  you  visited  me,  I  was  in  prison  and you  came  to  me.’    Then  the  righteous  will  answer  him,  ‘Lord,  when  did  we  see  Thee  hungry  and feed  Thee,  or  thirsty  and  give  Thee  drink?  And  when  did  we  see  Thee  a  stranger  and  welcome Thee,  or  naked  and  clothe  Thee?  And  when  did  we  see  Thee  sick  or  in  prison  and  visit  Thee?’ And  the  King  will  answer  them,  ‘Truly,  I  say  to  you,  as  you  did  it  to  one  of  the  least  of  these  my brethren,  you  did  it  to  me.’  Then  he  will  say  to  those  at  his  left  hand,  ‘Depart  from  me,  you  cursed, into  the  eternal  fire  prepared  for  the  devil  and  his  angels;  for  I  was  hungry  and  you  gave  me  no food,  I  was  thirsty  and  you  gave  me  no  drink,  I  was  a  stranger  and  you  did  not  welcome  me,  naked and  you  did  not  clothe  me,  sick  and  in  prison  and  you  did  not  visit  me.’    Then  they  also  will answer,  ‘Lord,  when  did  we  see  Thee  hungry  or  thirsty  or  a  stranger  or  naked  or  sick  or  in  prison, and  did  not  minister  to  Thee?’    Then  he  will  answer  them,  ‘Truly,  I  say  to  you,  as  you  did  it  not  to one  of  the  least  of  these,  you  did  it  not  to  me.’   And  they  will  go  away  into  eternal  punishment,  but the righteous into eternal life.”


This  has always been one of  the favorite  scripture  passages  of  my  own  little  disciples.  Imagine  what  an  awesome experience  this  will  be!   Note  the  first  phrase:  WHEN  the  Son  of  Man  comes…not  IF  He  comes;  this is  very  interesting.  Christ,  the  very  personification  of  Truth  Itself,  tells  us  that  He  WILL  truly  come  in His glory, with the angels, to sit on His throne and judge the nations.   

Are you among the people of “the nations”? ..........I guess I am.

Will YOU be assembled there with these people?........I suppose I will.

How  awesome  will  THAT  experience  be!     

The  tendency  when  reading  these  scriptural  passages  is to  envision  them  as  happening  in  story-land  (somewhere  else),  in  a  time  and  place  far,  far  away.  Not this  time.  I’ll  wave  at  you  when  I  see  you  there,  if  it’s  not  too  inappropriate.  After  all,  it  probably  will be  somewhat  of  a  solemn  occasion,  but  we  will  be  there  together!  As  we  stand  there  together  amidst that  crowd  of  souls,  know  that  when  Christ  the  Judge  begins  to  part  the  throng  into  two  distinct groups,  I  pray  we  will  be  on  the  same  side,  that  is,  the  right  side.  If  we  become  separated,  how  great will  our  anxiety  be!  You  see,  there  will  be  no  excuse  then,  for  landing  amid  the  wrong  crowd, because  Our  God,  being  the  Loving  God  that  He  is,  has  given  us  the  answers  to  this  final  exam  of ours in today’s Gospel reading because He wants so desperately for us to be saved. Note  also,  that  He  said  that  those  whom  He  sends  away  into  eternal  punishment  are  going  there,  not due  to  what  they  have  done,  but  what  they  have  NOT  done.  If  we  do  not  learn  one  other  thing  in life,  not  one  other  lesson...let  us  learn  THIS  one!  So  what  then  must  we  do? 

Let’s  follow  the instructions: …

I was hungry and you gave me food

Let  us  understand  that  by  feeding  those  who  hunger,  we  imitate  the  goodness  of  God,  Who  gives  us what we ask for if it is for the good of our salvation.   

Psalm 107:9: For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. Matthew 7:9-11:  “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?”

Luke  6:21:  “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied”

When our little sister cannot reach a book on the shelf and we get it for her... When Daddy had a hard day at work and we are sure to be especially quiet and good... When we do our chores well in order to be of help to Mom... When we see others in need of nourishment, whether for the body or for the soul, we must fill them with good things and satisfy their longings in order to be like our God.

...I was thirsty and you gave me drink,

Know that we can thirst for things other than water.

Psalm  63:1-3:  O  God,  you  are  my  God;  earnestly  I  seek  you;  my  soul  thirsts  for  you;  my  flesh  faints for you,  as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Isaiah  41:17:  When  the  poor  and  needy  seek  water,  and  there  is  none,  and  their  tongue  is  parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

Matthew 5:6:  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John  6:35:    Jesus  said  to  them,  “I  am  the  bread  of  life;  whoever  comes  to  me  shall  not  hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

When we know how to tie our shoes, and we offer to teach our little brother... When we help the baby learn to say her prayers... When we see that our brother wants to break a bad habit, and we keep him from temptation... When  someone  longs  to  have  something,  or  do  something,  or  be  something,  we  must  do  what  we can to help him achieve his goal in order to be like our God.

…I was a stranger and you welcomed me

How  often  are  we  among  “strangers”?  Most  of  society  thinks  of  us  Christians  as  foreigners,  as  well they  should,  and  it  is  sometimes  very  difficult  for  us  to  fit  in  among  them.  If  someone  seems interested  in  living  the  life  of  a  Christian,  we  must  encourage  and  welcome  them.  If  we  seem  happy to  live  in  Christ,  others  will  want  to  join  us!  This  also  means  that  we  cannot  judge  the  relationship that  each  of  our  neighbors  has  with  God.  We  do  not  know  their  hearts  or  their  understanding.  We must remember that Jesus’ last desire before He ascended the cross was that we all be ONE!

Hebrews  13:2    Do  not  neglect  to  show  hospitality  to  strangers,  for  thereby  some  have  entertained angels unawares.

Romans 14:1   As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Romans  14:3   Let  not  the  one  who  eats  despise  the  one  who  abstains,  and  let  not  the  one  who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

Romans 15:7    Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

When someone needs a place to sit, and we offer him a chair

... When Grandparents come to visit us and we greet them with a hug and a kiss

... When the lady in the grocery store is in the wrong line, but we are patient and kind to her

… When  others  feel  anxious  or  out  of  place,  because  we  know  that  God  loves  them  and  we  are  all brothers  and  sisters  in  Him,  we  must  encourage  them  and  put  them  at  ease  in  our  company,  in  order to be like Our God.

… I was naked and you clothed me

Clothing  the  naked  can  sometimes  be  more  than  giving  a  coat  or  shoes  to  those  less  fortunate. Being  naked  causes  shame;  all  sin  should,  and  usually  does,  cause  shame.  Shame  can  keep  us  from a  relationship  with  our  God.  Calling  attention  to  someone  else’s  shame  can  keep  us  AND  them  from God.  It  is  hard  to  recover  from  a  sin  (a  mistake)  when  someone  keeps  calling  you  out,  and  making you  feel  badly  over  and  over  again.  Discouragement  may  set  in  and  cause  that  poor  soul  to  give  up trying  to  overcome  the  sin,  and  he  may  relapse  and  fall  away.  This  does  not  mean  that  you  should never  bring  the  sinful  behavior  of  your  friend  to  his  attention!   We  have  an  obligation  to  lovingly  help others  to  be  all  that  God  created  them  to  be,  to  keep  them  from  hurting  others  or  hurting themselves.   When  they  do  repent,  however,  we  must  allow  them  to  move  on  and  sin  no  more.  This is how we must clothe the naked of spirit.

Genesis  3:10,21     And  he  said,  “I  heard  the  sound  of  you  in  the  garden,  and  I  was  afraid,  because I  was  naked,  and  I  hid  myself…So  the  Lord  God  made  garments  of  skin  for  Adam  and  his  wife  and clothed them.”

...When someone makes a funny mistake and you choose not to laugh at them.

... When  you  choose  to  whisper  something  private  to  your  mom  rather  than  shout  it  when  you're  out  in public

... When someone has asked your forgiveness and you NEVER bring the issue up again

… When  you  know  that  revealing  someone’s  past  sin  will  make  them  uncomfortable  or  discouraged, even if it is the truth, we must cover up their shame before others in order to be like our God.

...I was sick and you visited me

If  we  are  truly  members  of  the  Body  of  Christ,  which  is  the  Church,  we  recognize  that  when  one member  of  the  body  is  sick,  all  of  us  suffer.    We  can  visit  them  physically,  tending  to  their  needs,  or we  can  visit  them  spiritually  and  lift  them  up  in  prayer,  begging  God  for  healing  on  their  behalf.  In turn, we heal ourselves!       

James  1:27   Religion  that  is  pure  and  undefiled  before  God,  the  Father,  is  this:  to  visit  orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James  5:14-15  Is  anyone  among  you  sick?  Let  him  call  for  the  elders  of  the  church,  and  let  them pray over and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

...When Grandpa has a cold and we bring him some chicken soup

... When  we  hear  a  siren  or  see  an  ambulance  or  fire  truck,  and  we  stop  to  pray  for  those  who  are  in need

… When we hear about a suffering person and we say a quick prayer for them

... When  we  attend  a  Panachida  and  sing  prayers  for  the  dead,  although  we  may  not  even  know them

... When  someone  is  sick,  we  must  have  compassion  and  strive  to  ease  their  suffering  in  order  to  be  like our God.

…I was in prison and you came to me

Souls  can  be  imprisoned  in  so  many  ways.    Addiction,  prejudice,  sloth,  anger,  and  pride  are  all  sins which  chain  and  paralyze  the  soul.  The  soul  that  chooses  to  bind  itself  to  these  things  soon  learns that  the  enemy  is  not  content  to  allow  room  for  any  other  thing.   It  soon  becomes  so  overwhelmed by  these  sinful  dispositions  that  Christ  is  eventually  abandoned  all  together.   Because  of  their  choice, the  Christ  Who  dwells  sacramentally  in  us  may  be  the  only  Christ  that  these  people  ever  encounter. By  visiting  those  who  don’t  know  Him,  we  bring  Him  to  them,  within  ourselves,  so  that  He  can  visit and heal them.   

Psalm 146:  The LORD sets the prisoners free…

Hebrews  13:3     Remember  those  who  are  in  prison,  as  though  in  prison  with  them,  and  those  who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

When we show a good example of the love of Christ to others by our behavior.

.. When we help our brothers and sisters to keep the Fast

... When we help a friend to break a bad habit and encourage habits that are pleasing to God

.... When  others  feel  helpless  to  draw  near  to  Christ  and  His  forgiveness,  we  must  draw  near  to  them, bringing  Jesus  with  us.   We  must  assist  and  encourage  them  in  every  way  to  return  to  Him,  in  order to be like our God.

Finally,  who  are  “the  least  of  my  brethren”?  Christ  says  that  to  pass  the  exam  we  need  to  do  all  these things  for  THEM.  Here  it  comes…this  is  the  hard  part.  They  are  your  enemies;  the  LEAST  favorite people  in  your  life;  those  who  cause  you  grief  and  pain.  They  are  your  executioners,  those  who ridicule and abuse you. If we fail to do good for THESE we miss the boat!

Luke  6:32-37     “If  you  love  those  who  love  you,  what  benefit  is  that  to  you?  For  even  sinners love  those  who  love  them.   And  if  you  do  good  to  those  who  do  good  to  you,  what  benefit  is  that to  you?  For  even  sinners  do  the  same.  And  if  you  lend  to  those  from  whom  you  expect  to  receive, what  credit  is  that  to  you?  Even  sinners  lend  to  sinners,  to  get  back  the  same  amount.  But  love  your enemies,  and  do  good,  and  lend,  expecting  nothing  in  return,  and  your  reward  will  be  great,  and you  will  be  sons  of  the  Most  High,  for  he  is  kind  to  the  ungrateful  and  the  evil.  Be  merciful,  even  as your  Father  is  merciful.  “Judge  not,  and  you  will  not  be  judged;  condemn  not,  and  you  will  not  be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.

Here  we  see  that  the  final  exam  of  life  condenses  down  to  one  thing…transformation  into  the  very image of Christ. We must imitate Him down to the very last and finest detail.   

Luke  23:34    And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Christ  rejects  no  one.  Consider  Longinus,  the  nearly  blind  Roman  soldier  who  pierced  His  side  with the  lance,  putting  a  hole  into  His  Sacred  Heart  when  He  was  on  the  cross.  This  executioner  received the  gift  of  perfect  vision  when  some  of  the  precious  blood,  the  very  blood  that  was  spilled  BY  HIM, was  splashed  into  his  nearsighted  eyes!  Jesus  touched  the  ear  of  Malchus,  another  soldier,  and healed  it  before  the  very  same  man  dragged  Him  off  to  death.  Judas  was  given  the  Body  of  Christ before  his  betrayal  of  that  very  Body  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy.  Christ’s  love  knows  no  bounds! He  fed,  healed  and  forgave  the  least  of  His  brethren  as  an  example  to  us,  so  that  we  could  look  to Him,  and  learn  about  the  perfect  love  that  is  necessary  to  pass  this  final  exam.  He  desires  that  we become perfect images of Him!


This week, as we contemplate  the  answers  to  the  Final  Exam, brainstorm  ways  that  your  family  can  put  these messages into practice during the Great Fast.

Craft  a  coin  bank  to  keep  near  your  prayer  corner  and  collect  spare  change  to  donate  to  help the poor!

Clean  out  your  closet  and  collect  some  clothes  that  don’t  fit  you  anymore  and  donate  them!

Start  looking  now  and  put  them  aside  so  that  when  the  day  comes  to  collect  them  and  give  them  to the poor, you’ll be ready.

Begin  to  collect  boxes  of  canned  goods  and  pantry  items  to  give  to  Father  so  he  can distribute them to any poor and hungry soul who may come to his door.

Make  up  some  spiritual  bouquet  cards  for  Father  to  take  with  him  on  his  sick  calls.   Be  sure to keep him well supplied with these items not only now, but after the Fast as well!

Take  a  moment  to  devise  a  plan  for  Fasting  for  yourself  and  your  family.   How  will  we  fast?   What are  the  Fasting  Regulations  for  our  Eparchy  and  how  will  we  meet  them  properly?   Do  we  have  our pantry properly stocked, and did we put away the foods that will challenge our fasting resolve?

Let no one tell you that you are too small to be a little lamb for Jesus!

(taken from The Zacchaeus Tree, by Lynne Wardach;

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