Matthew 25:1-13 This parable reminds us that we must be waiting and watchful for the Second Coming of Christ so we will be ready to greet him when he comes in glory.
Bridegroom: The image of a bridegroom or spouse is often used as a metaphor to describe the relationship between Christ and his Church. (CCC 672, 796, 1618)
Ch 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents teaches that, even though we do not each receive the same amount of gifts, we must make good use of what we have been given by God. If we are to be true disciples, we cannot simply bide our time on earth and ignore the need to grow in many deeds of love, especially in service to others. Though this parable is wide in scope in its application, it certainly applies to a growth in charity through personal effort for charity to increase. (CCC 546, 1029, 1720, 1936)
Ch 25:31-46 Actions that provide for the physical or spiritual needs of others are called “works of mercy,” They are extensions of the second greatest commandment to love our neighbor. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats sends a powerful message that we have an obligation to assist and care for those in need. In fact, we will be judged according to how much we have helped others both materially and spiritually. Church tradition recognizes seven Corporal Works of Mercy (feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, burying the dead) and seven Spiritual Works of Mercy (admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, comforting the sorrowful, praying for the living and the dead) (cf. CCC 2447). (CCC 331-332, 678-679, 1033-1038, 1932, 2463)
Ch 25:31 The Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and the eternal nature of Heaven and Hell are defined dogmas of the Church. (CCC 678, 679, 682, 1038-1041)
Ch 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food…: Christ, who was born into poverty and took on our human sufferings, identifies himself with the poor and needy. He is present in a special way in the “least of our brothers and sisters.” His own compassion and care for the suffering is continued in the lives of all his followers. (CCC 544, 1373, 1503)
Ch 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment...eternal life: If we do not recognize Christ in the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the ignorant, and others in need, and if we fail to respond with compassion and works of mercy, then he will not recognize us as members of his flock. By such sins of omission, our Lord makes it clear that we are liable to severe judgment. (CCC 1033, 2443)
Ch 26:1-5 The enemies of Christ were afraid of the people’s regard for him; therefore, arresting him with the intent to have him executed could have put them in a precarious position. The conspiracy against him would have to be well crafted and coordinated. (CCC 574-576)
Ch 26:6-16 The act of anointing Christ’s feet with an expensive ointment was similar to a Jewish custom among the well-to-do of anointing the body of the newly deceased in preparation for burial. The woman’s gesture of anointing was thus a prefigurement of Christ’s own Death and Burial. The disciples who complained about what they saw as a waste of money failed to see in the anointing an expression of love, humility, and affirmation of his dignity. John identified the chief objector as Judas (cf. Jn 12:4). (CCC 597)
Ch 26:17-25 Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, is the first day of the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread. The feast involved, among other things, the ritual, bloody sacrifice of a spotless lamb for a meal that included unleavened bread and wine. During one of these celebrations, which became known as the Last Supper, Christ identified his betrayer, Judas, but did not restrain him. Judas’s betrayal would be incorporated into God the Father’s plan for his Son’s redemptive Sacrifice. (CCC 610)
Ch 26:26-29 Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it: These words, which accompanied the breaking of the bread, were used twice before by Christ at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (cf. Mt 14:19; 15:36), which prefigured the institution of the Eucharist. Here, Christ appropriated part of the Jewish Passover meal to institute the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
This is my blood...forgiveness of sins: Christ is the sinless and spotless Lamb of God who would give his life in sacrifice for the sins of the world. Through his words and actions at the Last Supper and his command to continue this celebration, Christ also instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
I shall not drink it again...my Father’s kingdom: The ultimate fulfillment of the Passover will take place in the glory of Heaven, the ultimate perfection of the Kingdom of God. Christ’s words, “This is my body...this is my blood,” are unequivocal; this has been the constant teaching of the Church. The Sacrifice of Our Lord on the Cross is continuously made present by means of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The bishop or priest, obeying Christ’s command and using the same words of consecration used by Christ, makes him really and substantially present on the altar through the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christ is really and fully received in our Holy Communion, by which the faithful are spiritually nourished. The change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the moment of consecration is referred to as “transubstantiation,” and the presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist is called the “Real Presence.” (CCC 613, 1328-1329, 1365-1366, 1402-1403, 1846)
Ch 26:29 The Church refers to the “fruit of the vine…[which] will become our spiritual drink” during the Offertory at Mass. Wine symbolizes joy and love, which is a principal effect of receiving the Eucharist. Wine also symbolizes blood, which points to the Passion of our Lord made present sacramentally in the Mass. (CCC 1334)
Ch 26:36-46 In the hours before his arrest and crucifixion, Christ prayed for strength to fulfill the divine plan of his Passion and Death. His apprehension was real as he asked his Father, “Let this cup pass,” but he submitted completely to his Father’s will, obedient even unto death. Prayer does not merely consist in “asking” things from God but, more importantly, obtaining the grace to identify God’s will and strength to bear our cross (CCC 612).
Watch and pray...flesh is weak: The battle between flesh and spirit is a lifelong struggle for all the faithful. Remaining on guard against temptation requires prayer. (CCC 2719, 2733, 2756, 2846)
Ch 26:47-57 Put your sword back: Although he could have called down his angels for protection, Christ chose not to defend himself against those about to arrest him. God allowed the unjust betrayal and execution of his only Son in order to bring about the redemption of the world. There is a paradox here in that all of the people involved in the Crucifixion of Christ, including Judas, played a part in the Father’s plan to redeem the world. Christ’s admonition, “Put your sword back,” stresses that the Kingdom of God grows not through violence but through love. (CCC 333, 600, 609, 2262)
Ch 26:50 Friend, why are you here?: By calling him “friend,” Christ gave Judas one more chance to repent and reflect on the gravity of his sin. (CCC 1851)
Ch 26:58 Peter followed him at a distance: This verse follows the description of Peter’s failure to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane. This seemingly incidental statement conveys the deep truth that only through habitual, prolonged prayer can we follow Christ closely. (CCC 2854)
Ch 26:57-68 Christ was brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court.
I am able to destroy...in three days: His listeners thought he was referring to the Temple building, but Christ actually meant the temple of his body, which would be raised up again on the third day. When Caiaphas, the high priest, asked Jesus, under oath, if he was the Messiah, Son of God, he assented to the title. The Sanhedrin now had evidence to convict him of blasphemy, a capital offense under the Mosaic Law. (CCC 443, 591, 596, 663)
Ch 26:69-75 Peter’s overconfidence in his own courage and his lack of recourse to prayer led him to deny his relationship with Christ. As Christ predicted, Peter denied him three times. In contrast to Judas’s despair (cf. Mt 27:1-10), Peter’s true remorse and contrition led to a moving reconciliation with Christ. (CCC 1429)
Proverbs 19:21 While people can propose plans, their actual fulfillment depends on God. In concert with human freedom, God’s will is always accomplished. (CCC 303)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Here we are, you guys!!
We are on Day 265
You know what that means, right?
If we have done our math right, we are 100 DAYS away from Day 365
From one perspective, it seems SO FAR AWAY
From another perspective, we’ve already done 2.5 TIMES THAT SO FAR!!
We read two chapters today where the Lord Jesus reveals THE NEED TO PREPARE AND GET READY FOR HIS RETURN
So we began the Passion today
But before that, we have Matthew Ch 25 which is all about BEING READY
It is all about BEING PREPARED
We have The Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Maidens
One of the things about Parables that we need to keep in mind is that THEY ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE
Fr. Mike remembers listening to this Parable and thinking, “Wait a second! That’s not right! Because my mom taught me to SHARE. So the wise virgins might be wise, but they’re not generous. They don’t do what my mom said. They don’t share.”
THAT IS NOT THE POINT OF THE PARABLE!
One of the things to keep in mind is that while there may be a POINT to the Parable, THEY ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE TO EVERY SITUATION AND EVERY SCENARIO
So what IS the point of this Parable?
The point is BEING PREPARED
So we have to understand, what is the SYMBOLISM OF THE OIL?
The Oil is not just oil here
The Oil is the VIRTUES that one cultivates
Another way to say it is THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD that one cultivates
At the end, the foolish virgins don’t have any oil
What is Jesus’ response or the Master’s response to them?
“I DON’T KNOW YOU.”
So we realize that if the THE OIL represents a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Or THE OIL represents that VIRTUE, that part of us that has been SURRENDERED TO THE LORD and has been BUILT UP BY GOD IN HIS GRACE
It’s something that I can’t give to you
It’s like if you studied for an exam, you can’t GIVE someone what you KNOW
How about this, I can’t train for a marathon and then you don’t train for a marathon and then you ask me, “Hey, give me some of your training so that I’m ready to run the marathon.” (No amount of training would get me to EVER run a marathon...I’d rather play tennis 🤪)
Or vice versa
You can’t give me YOUR BEING PREPARED when I AM NOT PREPARED
That is something that is true about our relationship with Christ
Someone else might have this DEEP AND PROFOUND RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD
They might be COMPLETELY SURRENDERED to him and GROW IN GRACE
AND I CANNOT HAVE THAT FROM THEM
I CANNOT TAKE THAT FROM THEM
THEY CANNOT SHARE IT
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SHARE SOMETHING LIKE THAT
And that is what we are talking about when we are talking about the OIL
THE OIL symbolizes that DISPOSITION OF THE HEART
THE OIL symbolizes that RELATIONSHIP
I CANNOT GIVE SOMETHING THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GIVE!!
I HAVE TO DEVELOP THAT ON MY OWN!!
I HAVE TO CHOOSE THE LORD ON MY OWN!!
THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE READY!!
So we also have The Parable of the Talents and The Judgment of the Nations
When it comes to The Parable of the Talents, remember when Jesus cursed the fig tree when there were no figs on it a couple of chapters ago? (pity too, because figs are yummy 😋😋😋)
Why would Jesus do that?
Was he having a bad day?
Even though Jesus was HUNGRY, he probably wasn’t HANGRY (for our international brothers and sisters, “hangry” is a colloquial term that means to be irritable because of hunger...and now pause to imagine Jesus being in a SNICKERS commercial. What WOULD Jesus be like if he was hangry? 🤔)
Jesus was in complete control of his emotions
THERE WAS SYMBOLISM THERE
THE POINT OF FIG TREES IS TO PRODUCE FRUIT
THE POINT OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
THE POINT OF BEING SOMEONE WHO BELONGS TO THE LORD
THE POINT OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
WAS TO PRODUCE THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!!
THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!!
The same thing is TRUE OF US AS CHRISTIANS!!
THE WHOLE POINT IS TO PRODUCE FRUIT WITH THE TALENTS GOD HAS GIVEN US!! (I would like to produce strawberries...what about you? 😉)
AND IF WE DON’T PRODUCE FRUIT
“Ok, I was given this talent and I’m giving it back.”
THAT IS FAILURE!!
Where and how can I use what God has given me FOR HIS GLORY and to HELP THE PEOPLE AROUND ME?
THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO USE THE TALENTS
As opposed to saying, “I’ve got them, and I’m just going to keep them safe for MYSELF.”
THEY DO NOT BELONG TO ME
THEY HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO ME BY GOD TO USE!!
That’s the next piece here...
So what does that mean?
Does it mean being super flashy?
Does it mean being on a stage?
Does it mean that everyone knows that you are a disciple or an evangelist?
Well it means this…
Jesus makes it SO CLEAR in The Judgment of Nations
Matthew 25:34-36, “...‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
Two things to keep in mind…
There are ACTS OF VIRTUE that are SO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT
Not just important in the sense that they are really nice to do
But think of the people that go to HEAVEN is because THEY DID THOSE THINGS
Those who are going to HELL is because THEY DID NOT DO THOSE THINGS
THESE ARE CALLED SINS OF OMISSION
It wasn’t even that you walked by a stranger and kicked them
It wasn’t even that you walked by someone who is hungry and slapped them in the face
IT IS NOT THAT!!
IT IS NOT THAT YOU DID EVIL!!
IT IS THAT YOU DID NOT DO GOOD!!
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
When it comes to the big debate of FAITH VS. WORKS
We recognize that here, VERY VERY CLEARLY, Jesus makes the point of what is the distinction between those who enter to HEAVEN and those who go to HELL
DID YOU DO THE THING OR DID YOU NOT DO THE THING?
This is what we call THE CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
The call by Jesus to TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO ARE SICK
The call by Jesus to TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO ARE IN PRISON
The call by Jesus to CARE FOR THOSE WHO ARE NAKED
The call by Jesus to CARE FOR THOSE WHO ARE HUNGRY
The call by Jesus to CARE FOR THOSE WHO ARE THIRSTY
(the two remaining CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY are SHELTERING THE HOMELESS and BURYING THE DEAD 🤓)
Do I do that?
We get to ask the question, “Ok I might not be a horrible person. I might actually even strive after the Lord. But I have to ask myself, ‘What about those sins of omission? Where have I NOT RESPONDED when someone around me was in need?”
About this, it is SO IMPORTANT
St. James said, “Faith without works is dead.”
St. James also said, “We are not justified by faith alone, but by what we do with that faith we have.”
This recognition that WHAT AM I DOING WITH THIS FAITH?
Years ago, Fr. Mike’s mom was a nurse
She had wanted to travel the world on a MERCY SHIP, to be a medical missionary to those around the world
She heard the words of Jesus here in Matthew Ch 25
FEED THE SICK
CLOTHE THE NAKED
GIVE DRINK TO THE THIRSTY
TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED OF BEING TAKEN CARE OF
That was her dream
Then she met Fr. Mike’s dad and they got married and had a bunch of kids
So you would thing that dream is over and they don’t get to live that missionary life
Then you realize that his mom had 6 kids and a bunch of grandkids
And now his mom SPENDS HER WHOLE LIFE DOING THOSE THINGS
She spent her whole life CLOTHING THE NAKED
She spent her whole life FEEDING THE HUNGRY
She spent her whole life GIVING DRINK TO THE THIRSTY
She spent her whole life TAKING CARE OF THEM
THAT IS WHAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT!!
That’s what Mother Teresa did!!
People would go to Calcutta and say to her, “I want to do what you do here.”
She would say, “Go back to your families and LOVE THEM.”
Yes, some people are called to go to Calcutta, other places around the world, or missionary ships and take care of people that way
Most of us should look to the people on our left and the people on our right and ask ourselves, “Who are the people in our own homes? Are we loving them like this? Are we caring for them like this?”
THAT IS THE GREAT CALL!!
THAT IS THE CALL THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TO GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO FIND PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED!!
Sometimes, what being in NEED is that we just NEED SOMEONE TO LISTEN
HOW MANY TIMES?
IT COULD BE SO EASY!!
BUT ALSO IT CAN BE SO DIFFICULT FOR US
PEOPLE JUST WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO THEM!!
You could also add to the list Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’”
“When did we see that you just wanted someone to LISTEN and we DID NOT LISTEN TO YOU?”
Maybe you have that person in your life that is kind of tough to love
THIS IS JESUS IN THE DISTRESSING DISGUISE OF THE POOR, as Mother Teresa would always say
Lastly, we have this INCREDIBLE BEGINNING OF THE PASSION
We have THE PASSOVER
We have JESUS PRAYING IN THE GARDEN
We have THE BETRAYAL AND ARREST OF JESUS
We have THE DENIAL AND THE FLIGHT OF ALL THE DISCIPLES
There is something about GETHSEMANE
Gethsemane is in the Mount of Olives
Gethsemane means, “the place of crushing”
It’s where they crushed the olives to get olive oil
Jesus was being CRUSHED in that place
The next Messianic Checkpoint is The Gospel of Luke
Luke, being a physician, makes it VERY CLEAR the type of AGONY Jesus was going through even before the other people showed up to start SLAPPING HIM and BEATING HIM and START SCOURGING HIM
Jesus was already going through a place of CRUSHING
Even in the midst of that PLACE OF CRUSHING, what is Jesus’ CORE PRAYER?
His CORE PRAYER had TWO ELEMENTS
One is HONESTY
The other is TRUST
Jesus is HONEST, “Father, let this cup pass from me…”
Jesus has TRUST, “Yet not my will, your will be done…”
THIS SHOULD MARK EVERY ONE OF OUR PRAYERS!!
TELL GOD THE TRUTH!!
Don’t just pretend, “I’m fine!! I’m fine!! I’m fine!!”
WE TELL GOD THE TRUTH!!
IT MIGHT BE HORRIBLE
WE MIGHT BE IN A MOMENT OF PAIN
WE MIGHT BE IN A MOMENT OF FEAR
WE MIGHT BE IN A MOMENT OF NOT UNDERSTANDING
WE MIGHT BE IN A MOMENT OF FRUSTRATION
WE CAN TELL GOD THE TRUTH!!
WE CAN BE HONEST WITH GOD!!
WE HAVE TO!!
THEN WE TRUST GOD AND SAY, “AND YET LORD, IN THIS PLACE, NOT MY WILL BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE.”
WHICH IS NOT ALWAYS EASY
AND THAT IS WHY WE NEED TO PRAY!!
NOT ONLY FOR OURSELVES!!
In coming before God and learning how to be HONEST AND HUMBLE
HONEST AND TRUSTING IN GOD
ALSO TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!!
This community has journeyed A LONG WAY TOGETHER!!
Fr. Mike doesn’t think any of us could have gotten to this place if WE WERE NOT PRAYING FOR EACH OTHER
FR. MIKE COULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN TO DAY 265 IF WE HAD NOT BEEN PRAYING FOR HIM!!
WE COULD NOT HAVE GOTTEN TO DAY 265 IF FR. MIKE HAD NOT BEEN PRAYING FOR US!!
SO PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and we give you praise. Lord God, you gave your Son out of love for us. And your Son willingly gave his life out of love for us. Even in the midst of betrayal, he continued to love. He continued to give. Even though he knew, Lord, he knew the betrayal of the disciples, and he knew our own betrayal. And yet, he chose to give. And he chose to love. Lord God, help us always to receive that love. Help us always to allow ourselves to be chosen, to allow ourselves to be yours. You have bought us at a price. Help us to live that way, this day and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”