When the Son of man comes in his majesty with all the angels, he will sit on the throne of his glory. And all the nations shall be before him, but he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Because I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a pilgrim and you welcomed me, naked and you dressed me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to see me. Then the righteous will answer him: Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a pilgrim and we welcomed you, or naked and we dressed you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and come to visit you? And the king will answer them: Verily I say unto you, every time you did this to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Then he will also say to those on his left: Go far from me, cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Because I was hungry and you didn't give me food; I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink; I was a pilgrim and you didn't welcome me, naked and you didn't dress me, sick and in prison and you didn't visit me. They too will then respond: Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a pilgrim or naked or sick or in prison and we did not assist you? But he will answer them: "Truly, I say to you, every time you did not do it to one of these little ones, you did not do it to me. And they will go to the eternal torture, the just instead to eternal life.
This Chapter 25 is composed of two parables which have the theme "to watch"; the parable now presented, which concludes the Chapter, deals with what will happen when the Son of Man returns, here depicted as the King who divides the sheep from the goats. Therefore Jesus will come to divide the "blessed" from the "cursed", but in what sense? A certain correspondence is found in the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus says: "Do you believe that I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (Lk 12,51). Jesus offers us the only truth on which man can freely decide: accept the call of God or not, and from this choice will arise his final destination. In the parable reported by Matthew, Jesus therefore reveals himself as a future Judge for humanity, for which the only criterion for evaluation will be the absolute Truth, which if you recognize and accept, you will be on the side of God, but if you do not recognize, you will be in despair and on the devil's side.
And what then is this "criterion of absolute Truth" with which the King divides the sheep from the goats, or evaluates his flock? Jesus himself reveals it: "Because I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a pilgrim and you welcomed me, you naked and you dressed me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to see me ". And from here the explanation: "every time you did this to one of the smallest of these my brothers, you did it to me". Truth is the proclamation of the Gospel, proclaimed initially by Jesus but carried forward by those who adhere to His sequel, who in turn wish to pass it on for the salvation of future generations: they are the ones who, in this way, give food, to drink, to dress, who care for and visit the youngest of His brothers.
But who are these brothers? Always Jesus, in another passage of the Gospel of Mark, finds himself surrounded by a crowd sitting around him when they say to him: "Behold, your mother and your brothers, outside, are looking for you. "He answers them:" Who is my mother and who are my brothers? ". Then, looking around those who sat around him, he says:" Here is my mother and my brothers! Because whoever does the will of God, this is my brother, my sister and my mother" (Mk 3,32-35). In these terms Jesus turns to his disciples and to the crowd that is listening to him, who had stayed with him because they had recognized him as the Messiah, they believed in him, they were learning to live according to his teachings, and therefore they were those who they had expressed their yes to the will of God.
Here is revealed who are the "little ones" who still have to grow in faith, those to whom we must feed, drink, assist in approaching them to the will of God and grow in the absolute Truth proclaimed by the Son, "because everyone does this to one of my younger brothers did it to me. " And his brothers, Jesus reiterates, are those who do the will of the Father, therefore those who are close to him after having understood that He is the only manifestation of God. And in an even more extended and deeper meaning, "little ones" are and will be both those who will announce the Gospel after His death and resurrection, and those who will believe even without having seen and known the Messiah directly: this is how the union of believers should be, namely the community, the family, the brothers-sisters-mothers of the Son of God.
And it follows from the Acts of the Apostles that the first Christian community was really based on the teachings of the Gospel, on sharing, on mutual help: "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold their goods and distributed the price between all according to the need of each one "(Acts 2:45). From this it is now clearer that the goats of the parable are instead those who do not recognize Jesus, and therefore do not belong to the community and cannot do the will of His Father.
Now, sharing arises from an act of faith, from believing that Jesus is always present through the proclamation of the Gospel, even though he does not see it: "Then he said to Thomas:" Put your finger here and look at my hands; stretch your hand and put it in my side; and do not be incredulous but a believer. "Thomas replied:" My Lord and my God. "Jesus said to him:" Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who believe without having seen "(Jn 20: 27-29). Here begins the history of the Christian community that is born, stands and lives on the proclamation of the Gospel, and the model must be the one proposed by Jesus, namely sharing, which must be founded on fidelity to that Gospel that makes us walk in hope. And when it comes in His glory, it will examine which side we have decided to stay.
Matthew, with this parable, intends to keep the future community awake and active in the responsibility of being the body of Christ, with the aim of making Jesus alive and present at all times, through His word and teachings. The parable is therefore also addressed to us today, to encourage us to strengthen our will to be part of those who believe infinitely: only then will we become brothers of Jesus, because we will truly live His word concretely. We therefore ask him, directly and insistently, to strengthen this desire and this desire to adhere more and more to His Word.