Summary: Parables for Seekers, Pt. 10 (Final)
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE (MATTHEW 25:31-46)
Shortly after the Pope had apologized to the nation of Israel for the treatment of Jews by the Catholic Church over the years, Ehud Barak, the leader of Israel, sent back a message to the College of Cardinals. The proposal was for a friendly game of golf to be played between the two leaders or their representatives to show the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared by the Catholic and Jewish faith.
The Pope met with his College of Cardinals to discuss the proposal. “Your Holiness,” said one of the Cardinals, “Mr. Barak wants to challenge you to a game of golf to show that you are old and unable to compete. I am afraid that this would tarnish our image to the world.” The Pope thought about this and as he had never held a golf club in his life asked, “Don’t we have a Cardinal to represent me?” “None that plays golf very well,” a Cardinal replied. “But,” he added, “there is a man named Jack Nicklaus, an American golfer who is a devout Catholic. We can offer to make him a Cardinal, then ask him to play Mr.Barak as your personal representative. In addition to showing our spirit of co-operation, we’ll also win the match.” Everyone agreed it was a great idea. The call was made. Of course, Nicklaus was honored and agreed to play as a representative of the Pope.
The day after the match, Nicklaus reported to the Vatican to inform the Pope of the result. “I have some good news and some bad news, Your Holiness,” said the golfer.
“Tell me the good news, Cardinal Nicklaus,” said the Pope. “Well, Your Holiness, I don’t like to brag, but even though I’ve played some pretty terrific rounds of golf in my life, this was the best I have ever played, by far. I must have been inspired from above. My drives were long and true, my irons were accurate and purposeful, and my putting was perfect. With all due respect, my play was truly miraculous.” “How can there be bad news?” the Pope asked. Nicklaus sighed, “I lost to Rabbi Tiger Woods by three strokes.”
There is no stomach like a goat’s stomach. No lawn mower is as effective and can go where goats go. They are inexpensive, low-cost, and unsupervised. Goats, however, are a nuisance compared to sheep and a danger to combat. According to news reports, the Galápagos Islands has been for many decades the scene of a war and a battle between man and goat. Park officials kill tens of thousands of goats with their rifles because goats in their feeding frenzy destroy a prized environment and threaten native species like tortoises by competing for food, scientists say.
Whalers from New England are thought to have left the first goats on these islands almost two centuries ago as a food source. By the late 1990s, there were more than 140,000 wild goats there in contrast to the roughly 30,000 residents there. (“War in the Pacific: It’s Hell, Especially if You’re a Goat,” The New York Times, May 1, 2007)
In Palestine, sheep and goats are often seen together in the same grounds. Farmers, ranchers, and herdsmen usually allow them to graze and roam in the same field. Jesus did not say that observers cannot “distinguish” between a sheep and a goat, but that as long as they can remember, they have seen the animals run together. It is pointless, redundant, work and money for the owners to place them in different fields. Sheep and goats are free to wander and mingle unless they are separated. Also, they do not fight, envy or avoid one another.
Why is separation of sheep and goats needed? When does it happen? What does it accomplish and what are we to do now?
Beware of Those Who Do Not Do a Thing
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matt. 25:31-36)