“Inherit the kingdom pre­pared for you.” (Matthew 25:34)

The sheep are puzzled. “What did we do to deserve such a won­derful thing as the kingdom?” they ask. “When did we ever see you hun­gry, thirsty, naked, sick, or in prison? When did we ever minister to your needs?” (Matthew 25:37-39).

Jesus’ answer is simple: “Do you remember all the times when you served the hungry? When you visited the sick in the hospital? When you donated to the food bank or deliv­ered clothes to the homeless shelter? Every time you did these things, you did it for me. So come in and receive the reward for all your works of lov­ing service.”

Imagine what it must feel like to hear Jesus tell you: “Come, enter the kingdom you’ve spent your life build­ing. You’ll feel right at home!”

The truth is, the kingdom that Jesus describes in this parable is very much like the kingdom that these “sheep” have been building. They have been laboring to create an envi­ronment where there is no more suffering, no more hunger or want, no more sadness or isolation. They have been pouring themselves out so that everyone is treated with the dig­nity and honor befitting a beloved child of God. Isn’t that what heaven is going to be like?

In that kingdom, there will be no more thirst because everyone will have access to clean water— and access to the Living Water of the Spirit. In heaven, every injustice will be wiped away. There will be no more ragged refugees driven from their homeland by violence or fam­ine. Everyone will be clothed in a garment of dignity perfectly fitted to his or her unique nature. No one will be wrongfully imprisoned or exiled , and those who were justly impris­oned will not be forsaken but will be forgiven and restored.

Isn’t this the life we all long for? Well, if we want it so badly, let’s go out and start building it! Let’s reach out our hands to each other. It may surprise us, but it shouldn’t—to find Jesus reaching his hands down to us and filling our efforts with his own divine power and grace. After all, he wants to see this kingdom even more than we do!

“Jesus, you promised to prepare a place for us in your kingdom. Help us prepare to be at home there by the way we cherish the least of your brothers and sisters.”

Leviticus 19:1-2,11-18; Psalm 19:8-10,15