I often refer to this passage of the Last Judgment with my students. They have so many questions about heaven that it only seems natural to look at what Jesus Himself had to say about our encounter with Him after we die:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who 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 drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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 no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The average person has difficulty in seeing Christ in others. This can be true for teachers. We enter the classroom with our lesson plans, quizzes and stacks of paper to grade. We equate classroom management and discipline with comprehensive moral guidance. We often forget the main objective of teaching: bringing our students to heaven. Teaching young people about eternal happiness and fulfillment takes diligence. This honor comes with tremendous responsibility.
For this reflection, we must place ourselves in the bull’s eye of Christ’s questions. Imagine the last judgment as if Jesus spoke directly to each teacher.
When your students were hungry for something more than the world could provide, did you nourish them with the comfort of faith?
Did you fill his or her soul with the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven? How often did you bring these young people to receive the Bread from Heaven and sit with me in Adoration?
Did you show your students the moral path when they thirsted for righteousness? Did you illuminate their lives with truth in a world of relativism and darkness?
Did you, a stranger help the lonely and lost souls feel welcome and connect with others?
When the young people in your midst were stripped of their dignity because of their impulsive selfishness did you clothe them with my love?
When your students were left exposed did you cover them with dignity and the hope of conversion?
Christ, the teacher, puts a heavy burden on the shoulders of every teacher. How are you faring under the load? Are you worried about grades or souls? Next time the nuts and bolts of teaching distract you from our precious goal, reflect on what Jesus demands of you. Efficiency in the classroom will be judged on far more than the timeliness of graded papers and the average of your last test.
When you create you next lesson plan, think about how you can lead the young people in your class on the path to heaven.
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