Thoughts: Goats get rather a bad rap in this scripture. Of course, they are used here as a metaphor, but goats in real life are valuable.
Goats are rugged animals, which can find enough food to eat even in poor, dry land, where sheep might starve. Goats’ milk is nourishing and easier to digest than cows’ milk. Excellent cheeses are made from goats’ milk. Goat skins make high-grade leather, including the famous morocco leather. Both mohair and cashmere are made from goat hair.
Goats are noisier and more aggressive than sheep, less attractive and less biddable. The people listening to Jesus would have been very familiar with both goats and sheep, so they were useful symbols in Jesus’ story. A wise teacher builds on what his listeners already know.
Discussion: What qualities of goats should Christians emulate?
Activity: After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Mary looked at children and “saw a little Christ in every face.” We must see a little Christ in the least of these.
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