In the reading (Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18) expands upon a portion of the Ten Commandments — the commandments about loving others, not about loving God. If we don’t love others, we don’t love God.
Why? Because he cares about everyone, even the worst of the worst. If we truly love him, we care about those whom he loves: everyone, even those who reject the truth about him, even those who reject us and cause us to suffer.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel passage (Matthew 25:31-46) that what we do to others we are actually doing to him. Why? Because he united himself to every sinner — even the most terrible sinners — when he came to earth as one of us and then offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
The worst of the worst people in our lives are the “least of these” whom we are to treat the way we’d like to treat Jesus, even if they don’t acknowledge what Jesus did for them.
Our love for others is our love for God. When we lie or speak falsely, we’re lying to Christ as he hangs on the cross. When we break a promise to a child, we profane the name of God, who is the Promise Keeper.
When we curse someone who cannot hear us or when we speak ill of others behind their backs, God hears us and takes it personally. When we make the blind stumble (for example, causing a sinner to sin more), God sees and holds us accountable.
When we judge others unfairly as if we knew everything about their hearts and motives, we judge God, who is the Judge. When we slander and complain about our relatives or ex-spouses, we slander God.
If we ignore our neighbor who is suffering when we are capable of helping, we turn our backs on the Lord who suffered tremendously.
When we recognize that someone is sinning, it’s right to try to reprove him, but if we prove our hatred for him by retaliating or holding a grudge, we are hating God, who is the Giver of Mercy.
And since we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, whenever we’re unkind to ourselves, we’re being cruel to God.
When we choose not to do good to others, we are refusing to do good to Jesus, and thus we become the accursed “goats” who are separated from him. Love means DOing something good for others and thus also for Jesus. The “sheep” in the story did good deeds — actions of caring — even to those who deserved it least.
One reason why DOing is so important is because it converts our feelings. It’s hard to hold a grudge while doing an act of kindness.