Thoughts from the Early Church

Commentary by Hippolytus

The Son of Man will take his seat on his throne of glory
and will separate people from one another. (Mt 25:31)

As the holy Gospel clearly proclaims, the Son of Man will gather together all nations. “He will separate people one from another, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place at his right hand, the goats at his left. Then he will say to those at his right: Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Come, you lovers of poor people and strangers. Come, you who fostered my love, for I am love. Come, you who shared peace, for I am peace.

“Come, my Father’s blessed ones, inherit the kingdom prepared for you” who did not make an idol of wealth, who gave alms to the poor, help to orphans and widows, drink to the thirsty, and food to the hungry.

Come, you who welcomed strangers, clothed the naked, visited the sick, comforted prisoners, and assisted the blind.

Come, you who kept the seal of faith unbroken, who were swift to assemble in the churches, who listened to my Scriptures, longed for my words, observed my law day and night, and like good soldiers shared in my suffering because you wanted to please me, your heavenly King.

“Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Look, my kingdom is ready, paradise stands open, my immortality is displayed in all its beauty. Come now, all of you, “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Then, astounded at so great a wonder—at being addressed as friends by him whom the angelic hosts are unable clearly to behold—the righteous will reply, exclaiming: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you? Master, when did we see you thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you,” whom we hold in awe, “naked and clothe you? When did we see you,” the immortal One, “a stranger and welcome you? When did we see you,” lover of our race, “sick or in prison and come to visit you?”

You are the Eternal, without beginning like the Father, and co-eternal with the Spirit. You are the One who created all things from nothing; you are the King of angels; you make the depths tremble; you are “clothed in light as in a robe”; you are our maker who fashioned us from the earth; you are the creator of the world invisible. The whole earth flies from your presence. How could we possibly have received your lordship, your royal majesty, as our guest?

Then will the King of Kings say to them in reply: “Inasmuch as you did this to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.” Inasmuch as you received, clothed, fed, and gave a drink to those members of mine about whom I have just spoken to you, that is, to the poor, you did it to me.

So come, enter “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; enjoy for ever the gift of my heavenly Father, and of the most holy and life-giving Spirit. What tongue can describe those blessings? “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The Consummation of the World and the
Anti-Christ 41-43: PG 10, 944-945

Hippolytus (c. 170-236) was a Roman priest who probably came originally from the East. When Pope Callistus relaxed the penitential discipline of the Church, Hippolytus became the first anti-pope. The schism continued into the reign of Pontianus, but when Potianus and Hippolytus were both exiled to the mines of Sardinia they were reconciled before dying as martyrs for the faith.


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson