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Matthew 25: 31 — 46

Last Ordinary Sunday     Year A

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

31     14 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the
         angels with hi
m, he will sit upon his glorious throne,

32     and all the nations 15 will be assembled before him. And
         he will
separate them one from another, as a shepherd
         separates the
sheep from the goats.

33     He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34     Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you
         who are
blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared
         for you from
the foundation of the world.

35     For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and
         you gave
me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,

36     naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in
         prison and
you visited me.’

37     Then the righteous 16 will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when
         did we
see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give
         you drink?

38     When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked
         and clothe you?

39     When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

40     And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, 
         whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine,
         you did
for me.’

41     17 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me,
         you
accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil
         and his angels.

42     For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty
         and you
gave me no drink,

43     a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you
        
gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not
         care for me.’

44     18 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we
         see you
hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill
         or in prison, and
not minister to your needs?’

45     He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not
         do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

46     And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the
         righteous to eternal life.”

 

14 [31-46] The conclusion of the discourse, which is peculiar to Matthew, portrays the final judgment that will accompany the parousia. Although often called a “parable,” it is not really such, for the only parabolic elements are the depiction of the Son of Man as a shepherd and of the righteous and the wicked as sheep and goats respectively (⇒ Matthew 25:32-33). The criterion of judgment will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the least of Jesus’ brothers (⇒ Matthew 25:40). A difficult and important question is the identification of these least brothers. Are they all people who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (⇒ Matthew 25:35, ⇒ 36) or a particular group of such sufferers? Scholars are divided in their response and arguments can be made for either side. But leaving aside the problem of what the traditional material that Matthew edited may have meant, it seems that a stronger case can be made for the view that in the evangelist’s sense the sufferers are Christians, probably Christian missionaries whose sufferings were brought upon them by their preaching of the gospel. The criterion of judgment for all the nations is their treatment of those who have borne to the world the message of Jesus, and this means ultimately their acceptance or rejection of Jesus himself; cf ⇒ Matthew 10:40, “Whoever receives you, receives me.”

See the note on ⇒ Matthew 16:27.

15 [32] All the nations: before the end the gospel will have been preached throughout the world (⇒ Matthew 24:14); thus the Gentiles will be judged on their response to it. But the phrase all the nations includes the Jews also, for at the judgment “the Son of Man . . . will repay everyone according to his conduct” (⇒ Matthew 16:27).

16 [37-40] The righteous will be astonished that in caring for the needs of the sufferers they were ministering to the Lord himself. One of these least brothers of mine: cf ⇒ Matthew 10:42.

17 [41] Fire prepared . . . his angels: cf 1 Enoch 10, 13 where it is said of the evil angels and Semyaza, their leader, “In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire – and in torment – in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever.”

18 [44-45] The accursed (⇒ Matthew 25:41) will be likewise astonished that their neglect of the sufferers was neglect of the Lord and will receive from him a similar answer.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright
owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may
be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the
copyright owner.

 

 

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