Saturday, March 03, 2007

Any Day Could Be The Day - Part 2

Matthew 25 has three parables that Jesus uses to follow up his chapter twenty-four sermon on the End of the World.

The first parable is about a bunch of virgins awaiting the groom to arrive for the big wedding day. These beautiful friends of the bride were to welcome him and guide him to the celebration. The story stresses two things: no one knows when the party will begin, so use wisdom (not foolishness) as you live and wait.

The second parable is about some servants who are supposed to double the master's wealth in his absence, and the master has given them what he think is a doable task. The story stresses two things: stay faithful and do good while the master is gone, he will return and expects obedience and wants to celebrate with you.

The final parable is about a rancher seperating his goats from the sheep. The sheep are going back out to pasture, they are going to have a pleasant life of munching and producing soft fluffy fleece for the rest of their life, no mutton chops coming from them! The goats, on the other hand, are headed for the slaughter house, somebody somewhere is getting the grill ready for goat fillets.
The story has a different twist than the other two: here the master/groom is amongst the people - undetected, it is as if never really left. It's as if he charged out the city gates on his steed, and then when out of sight beyond the hills, doubled back at dusk, slipping in by the guards disguised. He spends the next months moving throughout the city streets, experiencing the hostility and hospitality of his "flock".
Sheep share with those in need, Goats are greedy and look past the needs of others. What is interesting is that the "sheep" are praised for their feeding of the hungry, and these sheep are shocked when they discover that it was their master/groom/shepherd/Jesus they were helping. They didn't feed/clothe/visit because they thought the stranger was Jesus, they did it because it was the good/faithful/wise act to do.

Jesus, in one sense, is telling his disciples: I will go away, and you will wait for my return; my return will come when not expected, and I will return and be amongst you before you realize it. So while I am gone, be wise, be faithful and good with my Creation, take care of the least of these. Any day could be the day to do good, act justly, walk humbly with the least of these. Who will you be feeding, visiting, clothing, hosting when Jesus comes back?

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