So this morning, how many of us, when we hear the word lamb or sheep, think of this wooly, wonderful little creature who is warm and toasty and cuddly and just adorable and and then when you hear the word goat, how many of us think of this smelly creature that eats tin cans and butts people with its head and has these ugly horns?
Where are the ugly goat people now? How many of us in the congregation this morning consider ourselves to be like the sheep? Warm and cuddly, Cute, adorable. Just a pleasure at all times. Their fill really fill. Okay. How many of us consider ourselves to be the groat goats grumpy, ready to head butt nasty? Pretty much all the time.
I’ll go with it. Okay. Well, there is a major difference between sheep, C’s, and goat, C’s and ourselves, and that is we can make choices. They can’t. Animals are what they are. They. They don’t make choices the way we do. We can choose to be warm and cuddly, toasty and adorable or head button grumpy. Hence a story about a very bad choice.
As many of you know, most of my ministry. I have been in education and for quite a while I was always assigned to high schools and to have the very close priest friend who was assigned at a high school. And we were having one of these gospels about sheep and goats and good shepherds when we were having the school mass, a big school liturgy, and someone convinced him that it was a good idea to get a live lamb to demonstrate with the kids how to be a good lamb.
Now, he is very good at a lot of things, so very good teacher, very good, humblest can navigate really well. Not so street smart, though, and certainly a city boy who had no idea what a lamb really was. So now the mass was going to be in the school gymnasium. What is the floor of the gymnasium like? Well, two or four legged host animals.
It’s rather slippery. And what happens when two adult men try and get one little lamb in through an auditorium door? Let me just say, it is not pretty. Little lambs are not sweet and cuddly. Rather, they nip and kick and head, but they in fact are not those sweet little animals. We think they are in fact, goats are easier to handle than a little lambs.
Well, after a very ugly half an hour’s struggle, he was not able to celebrate the mass. I had to. We needed a substitute sacristan because the sacristan was bleeding and in no mood to celebrate mass. It was rather a bad choice. So how many of us look at something and think it is good or right and it turns out to be a very bad choice or the human condition?
Well, here we are today with Jesus talking about sheep’s and goats. And I’m here to tell you they’re not as easy to manage as one would think unless you are Jesus Christ. If you are Jesus Christ, then you know how to handle the sheep and goats. And here we are on the Feast of Christ the King. And so I am very happy to realize that both the Prophet Ezekiel and the Apostle Paul tell us that Christ knows how to handle us, whether we are the sheep’s the good ones, or so we think, or we are the goats, the ones that are a little harder to handle.
So we think the Lord Jesus has told us how it is to live our lives. He tells us that the good ones are the ones feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the prisons, visiting the sick, and if that’s what the good ones are doing. He also tells us what the bad ones are doing. Not any of the above.
Well, of course we know that our history of salvation in Christ is not about lambs or goats or sheeps or anything, but it’s about choice. How do we choose to live God’s plan for us in the right direction? And everywhere in the world, God is giving us the blueprint. The blueprint of how it is to choose liberty, peace, joy, mercy, happiness.
What is it that we choose? Freewill being what it is. We have control of how we make our choices for good or for bad. And so today, how is it that in light of the gospel about the final hour, the last quarter, the clock ticking, we’re breathing our last Are we going to choose God? Are we going to have chosen God every moment of our lives when it is all said and done?
What side are we going to be on, the sheeps or the goats? Well, it’s very Who wants to be a goat? I just heard someone say they want to be a goat. Hold on. Here, let me finish before you say that out loud. We know that God has already made the choice on Judgment day. Why? Because He’s given us this passage.
We know that God will choose those who follow the light, who live in grace. That’s the one that God will choose. But we’ve been given a path to that choice. All we have to do is read the gospel we just heard. Rip it out of the missal. Let carry it with you at all times. Here is the answer to the questions we will be asked.
And we have to tell the truth because God will know To inherit the Kingdom of God, we first have to build it every day one day at a time, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, being merciful to those in prison. That’s the way we build the kingdom. The bottom line is this God loves us. Our God is the God who saves us.
Everything else is a distraction. And even though we’re human and we make mistakes, we can choose choose God over and over again. We can live in joy because has told us everything is child’s play. Because, as Jesus pointed out, the Kingdom of God is understood by the Mirror’s child who can do better than that. And children know how to be loving and merciful, kind and gentle good.
They are in fact born the little lambs of Jesus Christ. As we get older, we may become the Billy Goats. What do we choose to be from the day we are baptized? The Lambs of God? Or do we choose as we age to be the Billy Goats? God has made the choice, be a lamb, be one of His sheep.
But we are free, unlike the lamb or the goat, we make our own decisions and we create the world in which we want to live. And we choose the world in which we want to live forever. Is it a world of kindness, peace and joy? It won’t just happen. We must work to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the sick to visit the imprisoned because no one will do it if we don’t.
Welcoming the stranger is often the thing that causes great tension. But we are choose. We are free to choose to be a welcoming people who understands the needs of others and season them. The hands, the faith, the heart of Christ and so today, what is my our deepest spiritual and emotional hunger? Am I ready to choose God and feed spiritually those most in need?
What do I see as I clothe the naked, literally the naked, and perhaps those who have been laid bare by hardship, unemployment, anxiety? Am I willing to clothed them in understanding and justice? Where in my life do I feel the call to release someone held captive, either either literally imprisoned or by greed or loneliness or anxiety anything that can help hold back someone in need?
Are my efforts there to serve all of God’s people. Last week we heard about talents. Where do my talents lie? And am I willing to use them for others? Well, whether we consider sheep cuddly and cute and warm and wonderful, or we realize that they are animals and they can be pretty tough whether we see goats as eating garbage, head butting and being nasty, they can’t choose.
And whether we see ourselves as a LAMB of God or a Billy goat, we can choose. Let us choose heaven. Let us choose the love of Christ. Jesus and salvation. Let us turn to God, our Father who has told us what to do, given us the answers to our final exam, and let us work to pass that final test so that when we come before the throne of Christ the King, we will hear the words well done, good and faithful servant.
Whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did for me enter into my kingdom with my son. Christ Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.