If we take this parable literally.
The turophiles in our midst
face a great dilemma.
For if the sheep are sent off
to a kingdom prepared
from the foundation of the world
and the goats off
to outer darkness.

Then there will be no creamy goats milk cheese
at the great and promised, heavenly feast.
No humbolt fog.
No Chevrot or Bucheron.
No aged goat blues.
No arugula, roasted pear and goat cheese salad.

Sheep.
Maybe cow.
But no goat.

I don’t know about you,
but I imagine God’s developed culinary taste
appreciates all three.

You may think my observation absurd
— and if you don’t, I wish you would —
because I purposefully want to take any ounce of literalism
any of us might have lodged in our minds
to the most absurd of ends.

To make a point.
And to point out the point of the parable.
Which is not about sheep or goats.
Not about you.
Well, not about what any of us may have done
or may have left undone.
Nor is the point about others.
Others we might be tempted to peg as sheep or goats.
For what they’ve done or left undone.

No,
the subject of the parable is God.
And the point of the parable is what God is doing.
What God in Christ Jesus is doing to establish a kingdom.
A kingdom on earth as in heaven.

And what the subject and the point of the parable point to is this:
in this kingdom established by God in Christ Jesus.
All are fed.
Thirst is satisfied.
Strangers are welcomed.
All have warmth of clothing.
Everyone receives not simply adequate,
but compassionate, person-to-person care.
The captive are remembered.

In this kingdom,
Christ’s reign is gentle.
Loving.
Tender.
And the ways of giving and forgiving
know no bounds.

Your kingdom come, your will be done.
We pray.
Because we know so well other ways, other wills.

Ways and wills that are not so gentle.
Not so loving and tender and kind.

Labels all too easily placed on others and on ourselves.
Schemes to make a buck,
at the cost of humanity.
Disregard for the vulnerable.
Cyber loneliness.

Your kingdom come, your will be done.
We pray.
Because the transactionary nature our culture, this world of ours.
Comes up short.
Leaves plenty empty.
Is filled with so much outer darkness.
And shadowy places.
Where some are protected.
And others are not.
Some valued.
Others not.

Some acknowledged for common humanity.
Others not.
These distorted, twisted, depraved
wills and these ways,
is precisely why God in Christ Jesus goes to the cross.

Not for an already righteousness people.
an already holy people.
But for the sinner.
The lost.
The needy.
Those who have sat in outer darkness.
Who know its power.
Is deathward ways.

God in Christ Jesus goes to the cross,
suffers crucifixion.
Endures on the cross of outer darkness once and for all.
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
is Jesus’ on and only word from the cross in Saint Matthew’s Gospel.
(Saint Matthew 27:46)

Sick once and for all.
Naked once and for all.
Thirsty once and for all.
Hungry once and for all.
Wrongly captive once and for all.
Dying once and for all.

So that outer darkness.
So that these ways and wills.
Are no more.
Have no more power over him.
No more power over us.
No more power on earth as is in heaven.

On the cross outer darkness passed away.
Once and for all.

Here.
Now.
We live in the hope and promise of the coming kingdom.
Already among us.
An empty tomb.
Life that death could not conquer.
Christ Jesus resurrected.
And with him the whole creation.
A kingdom on earth as in heaven.
Already among us, and continuously coming among us.

Among the broken being made whole.
Seen in tending the sick.
Clothing the naked.
Satisfying the thirsty and the hungry.
Remembering the captive.
Welcoming strangers in the land.
God establishes these wills and ways.
As the wills and the ways of the kingdom.

The psalmist has it right, in rejoicing:
Come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.

For the LORD is our God,
and we are the people of God's pasture
and the sheep of God's hand.

God’s hands outstretched on the cross.
God’s hands open to all.
God’s hands wounded.

Wounded hands that gather wounded people.
Rich and poor.
Hungry and satisfied.
The needy.
The lost.
The brokenhearted.
The sinners.
Every saint this world rejected.

Christ’s hands.
Christ the king’s hands.
Who turns to the father and says, here.
Here, loving father.
Here is the kingdom of heaven on earth as it is in heaven.

Here is the body of Christ.
The church.
Under wounded feet.
And wounded head.
Wounded and being made whole.
Scattered yet gathered.
Blessed.
Broken.
For the healing of the nations.
And daily bread; which is fulness for all in all.

O, dear sisters and brothers.
There is no need to worry about separation
of sheep from sheep or sheep from goats.
Outer darkness.
Who is who.

That’s been taken care of by Christ the crucified and risen king.

Whose gentle and humble and kind promise is this:
Go do likewise.
Live likewise.
Forgiving.
Welcoming.
Feeding.

Go, do like wise.
Gather, two or there.
And I will be there.
God with us.
Emmanuel.

Gentle and humble and kind.
The one who says.
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are
carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Saint Matthew 11:28)

Jared R. Stahler
Saint Peter's Church
In the City of New York

CHRIST THE KING
FINAL SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Sunday, October 12, 2014 - Morning Masses
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95
Ephesians 1:15-23
Saint Matthew 25:31-46