In this final story before his death, Jesus talks about the damned as “goats” and the saved as “sheep.” The so-called goats did not do a good job caring for the “least of these” says Jesus. “I was in jail and you never visited me.” The sheep did recognize Jesus being incognito in the stranger, the hungry, the sick, the thirsty, the oppressed, and the imprisoned. The sheep reached out to the least, the last, the lonely, the lost. “I got busted and you came to visit me behind bars.” Think with me back in Matthew 7:21 when Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom.” But “those who do the will of God shall enter.”
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our Christian life is seeing Jesus when he appears before us. We sometimes complain that God is elusive, difficult to know, silent, and withdrawn. Maybe we ought to confess that the problem is with us; we are the ones who tend to say, “Lord, when did we see you face-to-face?” When we welcome Jesus into our hearts, and into our homes, he will ask, “Can I bring my friends?” That is, can he bring the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed? Hmm…we may stutter and hesitate, but he will be clear: “Only if I can bring my friends.” Our response will make all the difference in the world.