Our Earthly Inheritance
“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. 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, 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.”
This parable begins with the Son of Man seated on the throne, using his authority to separate the people as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats grazing in the field. The sheep are those that have shown their faithfulness by performing acts of goodwill towards their neighbors. They receive a place of honor and inherit God’s kingdom. But those who have failed to answer the call of the needy and who have not followed in Christ’s footsteps to care for the “least of these” are called goats and do not inherit God’s kingdom.
|Christ dividing the sheep from the goats. Mosaic. |
Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 6th century, Public Domain
Since the world’s creation, God in heaven has gifted God’s children an abundant inheritance that provides for all our needs when we lack food, drink, clothing, companionship, care when we are sick, and solace in community during times of imprisonment. Likewise, God provides the earth and all its resources for God’s children to live in its richness. Water and trees are clothed in God’s glory as gifts for humanity and for all creatures on the earth.
But how many of us have come to believe that we are specially entitled? And how many of us, perceiving that we have more than enough resources from which to benefit, pollute our waters and cut down trees, believing that it is our inheritance to squander and do with as we please? Our sense of entitlement has led many down a path of destruction as we misuse God’s Creation.
I long for the day when all of God’s children can partake together in God’s copious and filling bounty. I pray that during this Lenten season we are reminded of God’s abundant gift to us through Creation and that we share that abundance with the entire world, remembering that there is no lack in Christ Jesus and that there is more than enough for all of God’s Creation.
Lord God, in all your infinite wisdom, show us your people how to honor your gift of Creation. Let us not be selfish with our gift, rather allow us to share as generously with each other as you have shared with us. Let us remember those in this world who still have not been able to realize God’s abundance because we have taken more than what we need. Amen.
The Rev. Kymberley Clemons-Jones is Pastor of Valley Stream Presbyterian Church in Nassau County, New York. Rev. Clemons-Jones received her MDiv (Union Theological Seminary) and her MSEd in Counseling (Hunter College) both in NYC. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Louisville Seminary.