I’ve often said that our Ecological Crisis has changed the nature and reach of the question: “Who is my neighbor?” for us in the modern world. We now know that we have impacts upon ANYONE in the world, because of our collective choices to OVERSHOOT our “share” of the world’s resources. We have chosen to determine that this is our “rightful” inheritance. But we have been SO WRONG.
Another story of Jesus has now presented itself, in Matthew 25.
31 “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. 32 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, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 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; 35 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, 36 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.’ 37 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? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 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,[g] you did it to me.’ 41 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; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 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.’ 44 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?’ 45 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.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
This story is given a title in many Bible translations: The Judgment of the Nations.
Mainly because it begins with that description: “All the nations will be gathered before him”.
And, just as with the question “Who is my neighbor?”, this poses a question to us as a humanity that works most often in groups; as collectives. And what is the collective effect of our human lives? Of these human lives that gather together to build and to survive, ostensibly to do so in a way that is beneficial to ALL? It seems we have a story of warning to us about the “unintended consequences”, and the collectives of people are stunned that all of these great achievements have “not taken care” of others.
Wow. I have to take some time with this.