October 29, 2014 11:00 a.m. Maronite Parish Norman, OK
Matthew 25: 1-13
At this point in chapter twenty-five of Matthew’s Gospel, the Passion of Christ is very near. It is the final parable. Jesus makes one last effort to awaken and urge the Leaders of the people and all who have not yet taken seriously his message and his life. The story today is found only in Matthew, and some think it is his best. For us there are three levels of development are here:
the historical level of Jesus providing a parable about the Kingdom of God for the leaders
the Matthew level of the early church providing a parable about how to survive the long wait for Christ’s return,
and finally, our use of the parable in as entirely different age.
At the Jesus level, it’s about acceptance or refusal
with a warning that some will be refused entry.
At the Matthew level, it’s about being prepared or readiness for the coming of Christ in glory.
At our level, because we can we see the other two, it is about even more.
Hidden because of all the visual imagery of this parable is a sentence that should not escape our attention: “I do not know you.” It comes with devastating consequences. Scholars tell us that it is an ancient rabbinical saying that Jews would have recognized immediately for its expression of separation. It was the ritual word for throwing someone out of synagogue. This bridegroom does not know who they are! They have missed becoming part of the celebrating community. The problem is not that they fell asleep, because both groups slept. The problem is that one group was not recognizable. This is the consequence of darkness: no oil = no light = no recognition. Those will enter who are known by the bridegroom. Those will enter who are recognizable. It is about relationship, being known. Too many people know a lot about Jesus, but they have no relationship with Christ. Studying the Bible, and knowing its verses without knowing and living with and in the one it reveals is not the way to enter the celebration.
We all know this, but we have not all done something about it. In the end, this is about procrastination which is the enabler of all our sins. We love our habits more than we love Christ. We protect ourselves with pious prayers that comfort us in a life of holy compromise instead of embracing a message of reform, conversion, and radical change. Doing the things we have to do when they ought to be done whether we like it or not is a most valuable lesson in the discipline of a holy life. It simply means that those who get into the banquet will live prepared for the door to open, not tomorrow or the next day, but today, in this moment, now. Our permissive society and a generation of children who never understand the meaning of the word: NO may not get it, but the truth and the heart of this parable is that there will be a sudden moment of meeting that arrives and then passes irretrievably.