The Gospel reading from Matthew 25 - the sheep and the goats - a question that has bothered me for sometime is how can it possibly be that IF the sheep and the goats are those in the Church they could say to Christ: "When did we see you?" when we all know perfectly well that we meet our Lord in each and every person in need.
Could the "panta ta ethne" (all nations) here refer specifically to those who did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel? And yet who used the light of Christ (who enlightens every man coming into the world - John 1:4) to extend mercy to the suffering and whose sins Christ forgives?
I'm ducking, because I honestly don't know if it can be understood in this way. But it strikes me that in three parables of judgment in Matt 25 we might cover the church (the virgins), the pastors (the stewards), and those who never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel?
PLEASE note that I am not saying this is so. I am asking if it could be so. And if so, could it illumine Romans 2 - with its "their thoughts sometimes excusing them" and Acts 17 - with its He is not far from anyone of us.