The first reading recasts "the king", not as a controlling or ruthless overlord, but rather as a gentle shepherd who seeks out the lost and lame, binding up their wounds. And that image of the "good shepherd" is the subtext for Jesus' rather harsh words in today’s Gospel. Jesus' frustration with the people's lack of acceptance of himself and of his message of love is apparent by the tone of his warning. Jesus had clearly outlined what was required of those who would be his disciples...feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to the thirsty, visit the sick and imprisoned, shelter the homeless and welcome the stranger, and by loving God with our whole being and our neighbor as our self...by these actions or failure to do them, we will be judged. The bottom line is that while we may cry out " Lord, Lord", we will not be recognized by what we say, but rather, by how we have lived our lives! No one wants to be singled out as one of the "goats", so the message is follow Jesus -- not by what you say, but by how you live.
The reality is that we are free to choose to live as Jesus taught or we can choose to live as if he had never been born. Remember those "WWJD" bracelets...more of a marketing gimmick than a religious statement as evidenced by how quickly they faded from all the major stores. Why did they fade so quickly? Perhaps because it was asking too much -- did people really want to know the answer to that question? And now as we, as a nation, struggle to take on systemic racism and racial inequality and to deal justly and lovingly with immigrants and refugees, and to house the homeless and help the chronically unemployed and underemployed…and the list goes on…but in each of these situations, we are called to seriously ask ourselves, "what would Jesus do?" What will I do?
As I open up myself to the love of Christ will I allow it to transform my stony heart into the heart of Christ? As I encounter challenging situations in my own life am I willing to risk asking myself: What would Jesus do in this situation? And then try to respond with the love of Christ regardless of the cost to me?