April 3, 2020

A reflection on Matthew 25:31-46 by our Assistant Program Director, Angie Smith.

Oh look, another apocalyptic text in which people are being separated into groups! By now we should be used to seeing this kind of setup in Matthew. A prophecy about the apocalypse and a parable, we’ll call it the prophecy and parable formula.

Here we have Jesus making a prophecy and quickly shifting into a parable; the Son of Man will come, things will happen, it’s going to be like this. It’s a good teaching tool, but again we need to not read too much into the text. I don’t want anyone searching for signs of the apocalypse when they finish reading this reflection. Jesus connects loving your neighbor to the loving God. It should go without saying, but the disciples didn’t have a history of fully grasping what Jesus was saying to them and if we are being honest, we don’t have a history of fully grasping it either. If you don’t love your neighbor how can you possibly love God?

It’s easy to love your neighbor if you like your neighbor. But what if you don’t like your neighbor? At let’s be clear, your neighbor isn’t the just the person that you live next to. There’s a reason that all of the nations will be gathered and not just the people in your neighborhood. Jesus makes it very clear that our privilege won’t get us anywhere in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Lord knows I’m guilty of looking the other way and of looking down at many of my neighbors. I can be mean and judgmental. I’m not always a good person, more often than not I’m probably not a good person. I fail constantly and that’s ok, because I admit when I mess up. As humans we aren’t going to do our best in every situation, it’s one of the problems of being human and having free will. However, we should acknowledge when we’ve failed to love our neighbor and therefore God.

Take the next few minutes to think about the ways in which you’ve failed to love your neighbor and God. When the last time that you thought about that? When was the last time you confessed? We aren’t doing this so we can feel guilty, but rather so that we can acknowledge our failings and renew our spirits. Things are hard right now and we are going to mess up, but we’re messing up together as the body of Christ and Christ is right here with us. Amen.