Ask yourself in a Mother May I sort of way:
1. Have you ever given money to a homeless person? If so, take 2 steps forward.
2. Have you ever visited someone in prison? If so, take 3 steps forward.
3. Have you ever passed by someone begging for money without looking at them in the eye? Take 2 steps backward.
4. Have you ever bought food for a street person? Take 3 steps forward.
5. Have you ever thought about buying food for a street person but not done it? Take 3 steps backward.
6. Have you ever given someone your coat? Take 2 steps forward.
7. Have you ever thought about giving someone your coat but didn’t do it? Take 2 steps backward.
8. If you’ve never visited someone in prison, take 3 steps backward.
9. Have you ever forgotten to visit someone in the hospital that you meant to visit? Take 4 steps backward.
10. Have you ever visited someone in the hospital that you didn’t want to visit? Take 4 steps forward.
11. Have you ever given something to a stranger just because they asked? Take 5 steps forward.
12. Has a stranger asked something of you and you ignored them? Take 5 steps backward.
Chances are you’ll end up pretty much where you started.
In a book called Good Goats, the writer tells about doing this exercise with a group of retired nuns: “One sister raised her hand and asked, ‘What about the story of the sheep and the goats? It says right there that the sheep go to heaven and the goats go to hell.’
The presenter responded by asking the whole group, ‘How many of you, even once in your life, have done what Jesus asks at the beginning of that passage and fed a hungry person, clothed a naked person or visited a person in prison?’ All the sisters raised their hands. He said, ‘That’s wonderful! You’re all sheep.’
Then he asked, ‘How many of you, even once in your life, have walked by a hungry person, failed to clothe a naked person, or not visited someone in prison?’ Slowly, all the sisters raised their hands. He said, ‘That’s too bad. You’re all goats.’ The sisters looked worried and perplexed.
Then suddenly one very old sister’s hand shot up. She blurted out, ‘I get it! We’re all good goats!’”
People of God, your God knows you for the sheep and goats you are . . . and yes . . . you are both . . . as am I . . .
Listening to our scripture text today, ask yourself what difference it makes to how you hear it to know that we are all both sheep and goats. . . all at once . . . all the time.