Gospel Matthew 25:1-13
This parables that Jesus tells are by nature mysterious. They aim to draw us into contemplation, and to challenge any preconceived notions we might have.
One particular reading of this parable could lead to an image forming of a God who is seeking to catch us out. Jesus’ message of warning then, is something akin to a hot tip from someone with the inside scoop.
This particular reading however seems to be inadequate, if only because it does not match up with other things that Jesus has said of himself, or of God the Father.
The kingdom of God is thematic in Jesus’ teaching. In his parables he uses similes to paint a picture – always leaving room for further thought and contemplation. The Kingdom of God, he says, is like a mustard seed, a pearl of great price etc. Each parable adds a different hue to the overall image we get.
In the parable before us today, which, it is fair to say has something of an ominous, almost threatening tone emphasises that the Kingdom of God is something that is beyond our control. We cannot impose our will upon it, but must be open and adequately disposed to receive it.
In the liturgies of the East the refrain that echoes throughout the service is often repeated ‘Be attentive!’ This is what Jesus asks of us here.
Is it easy to be attentive? Do we allow the happenings of our day, the frenetic busy-ness of modern life, the incessant notifications that make our phones buzz to distract us?
Point to Ponder
[P]rayer consists of attention. It is the orientation of all the attention of which the soul is capable toward God. The quality of the attention counts for much in the quality of the prayer. Warmth of heart cannot make up for it.
– Simone Weil