He Comes – the accursed

judgmentSolidarity. 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ The words “Amen, I say to you,” here and in v. 45 emphasize the principle of solidarity. Whether they knew it or not, the people they helped were associated with Jesus, to such an extent that they could be said to be Jesus. The more general principle of Proverb 19:17 that “Whoever cares for the poor lends to the Lord” is thus here more specifically applied to Jesus and his people. Continue reading

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He comes – the blessed

judgmentThe Blessed. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. As noted above, the “Son of Man” is now depicted as “king.” It the king himself who points out “my Father.” The Christological implications are clear – and even though it comes from the Gospel of John, one is hard pressed not to be reminded (John 5:27) where Jesus tells his disciples that all authority has been given to the Son to implement judgment. Continue reading

He Comes – commentary

judgmentFulfillment. 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him.” Matthew, writing to a largely Jewish Christian audience, has, from the beginning, relied heavily on OT imagery and scenes. This opening verse does no less. The most evident echo is from Daniel 7:13-14 and the wider setting found there. “The Son of Man,” “comes,” “glory” all directly echo those verses, as does the idea of enthronement. Matthew also echoes Daniel 7:9-10 from which we have the specific mention of “throne,” the gathering of angels, and the idea of judgment. There is one important difference. In Daniel’s scene it is God himself seated on the throne of judgment. In Matthew it is now the Son of Man, fulfilling what was depicted in Dan 7:14. Continue reading

He Comes – background

judgmentBackground and Context- This passage from Matthew is particularly dense with OT references, uses language that has already appeared in earlier Matthean verses (thus already having an contextual meaning), and because of its eschatological setting, invites comparison with other sacred writers, especially, St. Paul. Hence a bit more “context” is needed, or better said, background. Continue reading

He Comes – context

judgmentMatthew 25:31-46 – 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Continue reading

Choosing to live

One of my favorite films is the 1994 drama, The Shawshank Redemption. It is a movie I never tire of watching. One of the central characters in the movie is Ellis “Red” Redding, portrayed by Morgan Freeman. As a young man Red was rightly convicted of murder and has spent 40 plus years of his adult life in Shawshank Prison. There he knows the routine, has a certain status among the inmates, and has settled in. As he remarks about himself – he is an institutionalized man. Part of that life is that he lives in a state of managed fear from the guards, prison gangs, and the long silence in the night when he is alone with his thoughts. Part of that life is the operation of a contraband business acquiring and selling goods and hard-to-get items to other prisoners. In his own way, he is comfortable… safe. He risks little, he gains nothing. Continue reading

Gratitude to Happiness

GratitudeI don’t remember – it has been so long now – but somewhere, sometime ago, I began to start emails, letters, cards and the like with the same phrase: “May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.” It is an expression that begins many of St. Paul’s letters, in one form or another, e.g., Galatians 1:3. It is not a scripted beginning; there is a great deal of intention about it. There are times when I am in a hurry, responding to emails, that I am reminded at the end to return to the beginning and insert the greeting. It often leads to editing of the email if there is some part that does not have grace or peace about it. Continue reading

Talents: a distrubing story

Talents4The Third Servant. 24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? Continue reading

Talents: sharing joy

Talents4A Curious Start. 14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” If Matthew had used a copy editor, I am sure they would be discussing the use of “it.” What will be as…? Curiously, most Matthean parables are explicit when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. The previous parable (Wise and Foolish Maidens) begins, “the kingdom of heaven will be like.” (25:1). Here Matthew begins hōsper gar, literally “for just as”, indicates that the same subject is under discussion. Continue reading

Talents: doing what?

Talents2In what does readiness consist? Keep in mind that in our parable, the servants are not surprised at their master’s coming, so “readiness” is more attuned to whether the servants will be dependable in the use of the resources. We should note that the master entrusted his resources to the servants according to their individual abilities (25:15). The third one received only one talent, likely indicating that the master understands that he has less ability than the others. The master does not overburden the third servant who nonetheless fails – not in any loss of money, but in returning it without increase. It was not that he did something wrong—he simply did nothing. This is, then, apparently, a parable about maximizing opportunities, not wasting them. To be “ready” for the master’s return means to use the intervening time to “maximum gain”; it is again about continuing life and work rather than about calculating the date and being alert for his actual arrival. Continue reading