Rob Wigmore from Hexham Quakers, comments on Matthew 25 v 31 - 46:

The three parables that precede this reading are about our need to be watchful and to show by our actions that we are truly followers of Jesus. They are about preparing ourselves for his return, which was imminently expected by his earliest disciples.

In this final passage of Matthew Chapter 25, the writer presents the time of waiting as being over. We have come to the moment of judgement. The sheep and goats are analogies for the people who have heard and believe in Jesus’ teachings, and those who have ignored his message. The group who have supposedly heard what Jesus said and profess to believe in him are portrayed as being rather self-righteous. They have failed to embrace Jesus’ value system and to translate their faith into action.

The conclusion provides a majestic vision of divine reality. Prior to this, Jesus has been presented as a role-model for us, our teacher and mentor. He has spoken of how we should love God and love others as we love ourselves. He has taught us in the Beatitudes about the need for obedience and sacrifice, showing us that our thinking and our prayer are the foundation of our daily lives. But it is this "living out" of what we believe that is paramount.

Twice towards the end of this powerful passage, the writer portrays Jesus speaking of our need to reach out to our most socially disadvantaged and vulnerable neighbours, thus acknowledging that we will always live in a world of inequality and injustice.

The imperative on the believer is always at all times to reach out to those in need - the oppressed, the poor and suffering, even those who may inflict pain on us. Not only must we share what we have, we need to be tirelessly active in trying to create a better world. "By this shall all people know you are my disciples, that you love one another as I have loved you".