The above passages-especially Chapter 24-are fodder for eschatological (“end times”) types, since the discourse describes the future prior to and including Jesus’s return to Earth. For it’s in this discourse, Jesus paints a gloomy picture prior to his return: wars; apostasy; false Christs; persecution; earthquakes; apathy among many; desecration and destruction of the Jerusalem Temple; astronomical phenomenon; and the eventual return of the Son of Man who will gather up the Elect from all over the world. Jesus also warns of people being taken or left behind in those future days (a staple for the Rapture crowd). Jesus then takes this a step further with parables about the virgins and the unfaithful steward-each warning about being ready and waiting for the Lord’s return.
Then Jesus shifts gears. In Chapter 25, Verses 31-46 Jesus speaks of the Last Judgement. However, when Jesus describes the Divine prerequisites for Eternal Life, it’s not what we think. Jesus said that feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison.
If we look at the above passages, we would think them a slam-dunk. Jesus predicted the end times and we have to be ready. Think about it: we had wars upon wars, earthquakes, strange celestial phenomenon, people acting cold towards each other, Christians persecuted for their beliefs, etc. Regarding the “do gooder” stuff in Chapter 25? Leave those to the missionary ministries!
If we take a deeper (mystical) look, we see that Jesus was warning us what happens when He appears in our lives. What happens when we desire to grow closer to God; and God/Jesus appears out of nowhere? That our “world” will turn upside-down. That the “Temple” of our lives-all that we based our spiritual lives on-will be leveled. That the phenomenon described above are allegorical about the abrupt changes in our lives. We’ll have our “ground” shaken. Wars will crop up inside us with the ego. We’ll be “persecuted” by other Christians who may be too scared to get closer to the Divine and won’t understand us; thinking they’re “helping” us. We’ll see people and things in our lives removed from us as these changes occur. We’ll even see false “Christs,” or false ideals others will try to foist upon us tip sway us from the truth.
Plus, we need to be ready for those encounters with the Divine and take what we’ve gained and share it with others if we’re to grow. We must be ready with the oil of Divine knowledge to light the paths of our lives. Also, God’s entrusted us with talents that only we can fill; that we should not “bury” them.
Also, that getting into Heaven ain’t what we think! That doing mercy and love by the above acts in Matthew 25: 31-46 are what matters. Not all this other stuff we think will get us into the gate-not even “believing on Jesus”! Our religious acts won’t do it. It’s our getting out there and engaging the marginalized and disinherited, just as God engages us, that will usher us into the Kingdom.
How many of us are willing to let our lives get upended when we desire to meet God, and He/She appears out of nowhere? How many of us are willing to engage others as well?. And then, how many of us are willing to reach out to those on the margins?
A very enlightening discourse. Don’t you think?
And before I finish, let’s pause and remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on this day in 1968. Dr. King’s live could be summed tip in the theme of today’s post.