Meditation: Is your hope in this present life only? What
about the life to come after our physical death? God puts
in the heart of every living person the desire for unending life
and happiness. While physical death claims each of us at the
appointed time, God gives us something which death cannot touch -
his own divine life and sustaining power.
God does not abandon us to the realm of the dead
One of the greatest examples of faith and hope in the promise of everlasting life with God is the testimony of Job in the Old Testament. God allowed Job to be tested through great trial, suffering, and the loss of everything he had. In the midst of his sufferings Job did not waver in trusting God. In chapter 19 of the Book of Job, he exclaims:
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job 19:25-27).
Through testing and purification God strengthened Job in faith
and abundantly rewarded him for his trust and hope in God's
King David also expressed his unwavering hope in the promise of
everlasting life with God. In Psalm 16 David prays,
Meditation: Do you allow the love of God to rule in your heart? Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) said, "Essentially, there are two kinds of people, because there are two kinds of love. One is holy, the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him." Jesus came not only to fulfill the law of righteousness (Leviticus 19), but to transform it through his unconditional love and mercy towards us.
The Lord Jesus proved his love for us by offering up his life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. His death brings freedom and life for us - freedom from fear, selfishness, and greed - and new abundant life in the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with the love of God (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God's love to purify your heart and transform your mind to think, act, and love others as the Lord Jesus has taught through word and example?
The lesson of separating goats and sheep at the end of the
Jesus' description of the "Son of Man", a Messianic title which points to the coming of God's anointed Ruler and Judge over the earth (John 5:26-29, Daniel 7:13ff), and his parable about the separation of goats and sheep must have startled his audience. What does the separation of goats and sheep have to do with the Day of God's Judgement over the earth? In arid dry lands such as Palestine, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse. At nightfall, when the shepherd brought the sheep and goats to their place of rest, he separated them into two groups. Goats by temperament are aggressive, domineering, restless, and territorial. They butt heads with their horns whenever they think someone is intruding on their space.
Goats came to symbolize evil and the expression "scape-goat"
become a common expression for someone bearing blame or guilt for
others. (See Leviticus 26:20-22 for a description of the ritual
expulsion of a sin-bearing goat on the Day of Atonement.)
Jesus took our guilt and sins upon himself and nailed them to the
cross. He payed the price to set us free from sin and death. Our
choice is either to follow and obey him as our Lord and Savior or
to be our own master and go our own separate way apart from God's
way of truth and righteousness (moral goodness). We cannot remain
neutral or indifferent to the commands of Christ. If we do not
repent of our wrongdoing (our sins and offenses against God and
neighbor) and obey the Gospel we cannot be disciples of the Lord
Jesus nor inherit his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
Separation of the good from the bad is inevitable because one way
leads to sin, rebellion, and death and the other way leads to
purification, peace, and everlasting life with God.
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/