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23 February 2015

Read today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 25.31-end

Today’s vivid story of ‘The Judgement of the Nations’ by Jesus Christ, when he comes in glory, challenges all our religiosity and petty nationalism. It tells us that the good news of Jesus Christ is not a theoretical matter. It is not just in the realm of ideas or of religious activity. It is about putting love where love is not.

It is one thing to believe in Jesus, even to pray earnestly to him, ‘Lord, Lord’ - but it is something else actually to do what he says, and to demonstrate the Kingdom of God by living out in practice God’s love in the way we relate to others, especially those in the greatest need.

If we are to be true witnesses to Jesus Christ and to the Gospel, then our words impregnated by the Holy Spirit will be backed up by our actions.

There is no doubt, across England the churches are very busy with practical action to help people – in bereavement, in all sorts of personal crises, such as poverty met through foodbanks, and charities like my Acts435, a way of getting emergency money to people who need help. But Jesus calls for something more than an institutional response. In the end it boils down to this – how do I respond to the person who needs my help?

May God guide us during Lent to the people who need our support and give us compassion to spend time with them and offer practical help.

The remarkable thing is – in meeting other people’s basic human needs we ourselves are blessed – for we meet Jesus in others, and that changes the way we see things. In fact it changes the way we see others too.

 

Today’s Gospel Reading is Matthew 25.31-end

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,  and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’