Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To stay with you.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
As we arrive at the end of our pilgrimage in the church year, the lectionary readings thrust us again into end-time reality. We began this pilgrimage in Advent with waiting – waiting for the coming of the Christ child, even as we were called to remember that this manger-child would be the One who rescues us from all that holds us captive in this world, and will one day come again. Thus this pilgrimage led us into the Great Story of God – the “Great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed. . . . He is our God, and we are the people of is pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:3-7)
This side of Eden we find ourselves wandering in a world of our own making, a world where we forget who we are, and where we are bombarded with voices who lure us into believing that what we produce and what we possess will made us into somebody. We forget that “we are the people of God’s pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (“Psalm 95:7a)
In the narratives of scripture we learned to hear other voices – voices of other pilgrims who call us to “listen to God’s voice” (Psalm 95:7b). As we entered into the gospel narratives we learned to know Jesus, and to listen to his voice.
We are ushered now into heaven as God writes the last chapter of this world’s story. No longer are the voices and powers of our world in charge of the narrative.
Jesus, who came into our world to show us God, to live and love among us, to draw us into the gracious and freeing ways of God, this Jesus who was rejected, beaten, condemned, and put to death as a criminal, is now King, seated on a throne. This Jesus who refused the help and protection of legions of angels, is now surrounded by all the angels as he ascends the throne. This Jesus who entered into hell and set the captives free; this same Jesus who returned to heaven – and who, through the gift of the Holy Spirit lives within and among us – is now calling all nations, all peoples, to be present before him. Now he reigns as King of all kings, Lord of all lords, presidents, government leaders, all authorities. The world stands and waits before him. (Matthew 25:31-34)
As we wait and watch, Jesus begins separating the people – one from another. Some he calls to stand at his right. And others he calls to stand at his left. Finally, when he comes to an end of separating the peoples, he says to those standing at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Why did Jesus choose these persons to inherit the kingdom? What are these ones blessed by Abba? Why would they be chosen, and not others? As we ask ourselves the question, Jesus responds by saying:
because “I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
The choice Jesus makes has nothing to do with how much a person produces; nothing to do with how much a person owns. He chooses because these persons standing at his right – no matter who they are – have responded in mercy and kindness “to the least of these who are members of my family.” In responding to them, Jesus says they have cared for him. Whatever we do for the least of Jesus’ family, we do for Jesus. So closely does Jesus identify himself with his own.
In four days, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Who will we invite to our tables? At whose table will we sit? (Deuteronomy 8:7-18; 2 Corinithians 9:6-15; Luke 17:11-19)
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost:
- 11/14 Monday: Matthew 25:31-40
- 11/15 Tuesday: Matthew 25:41-46
- 11/16 Wednesday: Psalm 95
- 11/17 Thursday: Ephesians 1:15-23
- 11/18 Friday: Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24
- 11/19 Saturday: Matthew 25:31-40
- 11/20 Sunday: Matthew 25:41-46