A personal reflection on Matthew 25.1-13
Tough story! About readiness and unreadiness. The blessings of preparedness. The fallout of failure.
Given that the parable of the ten bridesmaids comes at the end of Matthew’s gospel, immediately prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, when, in the last days of his teaching, he is making pronouncements about the end of the age, it has an uncomfortable air of finality. The locked-out bridesmaids are left out forever.
If this is what comes of a cathartic confession of one’s errors of judgment, then it is no wonder that, in the face of failure, many choose the dishonesty of self-delusion and denial. Be it God, another person, or myself that I must face, if the judgment is one of a condemnatory casting out, then no thank you! I’d rather lie, admitting no mistakes and living with an illusion of control and the pretense of success.
But this is a story about the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven will be like this,” Jesus says. Usually, when the Matthean Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven the reference is to that earthly messianic community (that first century Christian community to which Matthew was writing), which is related to, but distinct from the eternal, heavenly kingdom of God. The story, then, points not so much to the end of time, but to this time. The plane on which the parable is fixed is less eternal and more temporal.
Left to an eschatological dimension, this story, with its unending judgment of failing, is entirely too final for great comfort or for good sense. This story, then, even in its judgment, is more fluid, implying a possibility of something beyond that seemingly final word of rebuke and rejection, “I do not know you.”
2 thoughts on “Ready or not, here I come(?), Part 3 of 4”
Ready or not!!! One of the things I’m always afraid of is failure!!! But then when / if it comes, I try to find a new or different path to overcome it so I can continue to live and support myself. Knowing that there is more to the Kingdom of God and that being rejected isn’t the end of the world is comforting!
Loretta, the more I reflect on this post, these words came to me: I cannot escape my past, but I can reconcile myself to and with it…
For what occurs to me, reading and reflecting on your response, is that my formative years’ household was laden with judgment. My parents, each and both of them and each in her and his own way, made clear that I was only as good as my last good deed (whether spoken or done – and, if spoken, the good word would last only as long as vapor rises from my mouth and disappears; and, if done, the good deed would last only as long as the next need for the next good deed presented itself). Hence, I didn’t learn that I was valued or of worth because – simply because – I existed (which perhaps explains why, given that I have come to believe that is so for each and all of us, when I am at my best that is precisely what I seek to convey to and with others: their existential worth and value as having been created by God)…
Now, in writing all this, I do believe that my parents meant well. They had the best intentions. Their lesson, however, was taken to heart by me in a deeply painful way; leading me, oft times, not to try for fear of failure and, thus, in fear of their disapproval. Now, that I’ve come to place in my existence (and in my theology!) where and when I can behold a benevolent and unconditionally loving God, I can look back and forgive my folks. (Tho’ I still, at times, find it hard to forgive myself for my excesses [when I strive/over-strive to prove myself] that arose and arise from that pained, hurt place in the depths of my soul where and when I do not value myself, indeed, my self simply because I exist.)…
Now, all this is to say I see God and the kingdom of heaven as I see now – full of love and welcome and acceptance.