by Eric Santillan

“When did we see you naked, or hungry, or thirsty, or visited you in prison?”
“Whatever you do to the least of your brothers, you did to me…”

C.S. Lewis once said, “When we get to heaven, there will be three surprises: First, we will be surprised by the people we find there, many of whom we surely had not expected to see. Second, we will be surprised by the people who are absent–the ones we expected to see but are not there. The third surprise, of course, is that we are there ourselves.”

During this Holiest of all weeks, let us reflect on this God of Surprises.

The Gospel says that to the surprise of many, the saved and the unsaved, the sheep and the goats, will be separated by the LOVE you show your fellowmen. It is a surprise because we live life otherwise. We build our status, social position, wealth. And here is Jesus reminding us that at the Last Judgment, those things will not matter at all.

I’ve found out over the years that life is not black and white. There are always more than one side to a story. Nothing is ever as straightforward as it appears. And that is the surprise. The surprise is that people who thought they were sheep were really goats. And people who thought they were goats found salvation. We will see people we do not expect. And people we expect to see will be absent.

A priest was assigned in a far flung area in Mindanao. And when he was there, he worked with a doctor who came from Manila and had volunteered to work in that area. He brought along his wife many years ago. The wife tried to support his doctor husband for several years, but after awhile she could not take the rural atmosphere and left him. The doctor stayed on and continued his work with the poor. A few years after that, he got into a relationship with a woman in the area and they lived together “in sin”. People in the area scoffed at the scandalous behavior, even as they continued to avail of his medical services.

When the doctor died, this priest confided to a friend, “I’ve been thinking about the way this doctor lived his life; and I think he is now in heaven.” The friend was rather scandalized, “What do you mean, Father? The guy obviously lived with a woman in sin. By saying that, you’re telling me that everything they taught us in catechism about adultery is wrong.”

The priest was silent for a while, lost in thought. And then he said, “No, by saying that, I’m really saying I’m glad we are not the Judge.”

A teacher told the story of the last judgment to her students. To prove her point, she made a colorful illustration of sheep and goats. Then she tells her students, “When Jesus comes, He will separate the good white sheep from the evil black goats.”

Turning to one of her students, she asks, “Joaqui, what will you be? A white sheep or a black goat?”

Joaqui hesitates, then answers, “No teacher, I’ll be a zebra.”

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current. At one time or another, he has taught, moderated college organizations, done organizational development work for BPOs, been a Jesuit, mentored people and given retreats.

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