July 24, 2021 – Matthew 21-25
The triumphal entry. Well, we often call it that, but it seems anything but triumphal. It was, perhaps, initially, but how quickly the religious leaders and the people turned against Jesus! But what a great gulf between the “religious folks” and the truly needy: “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them” (21:14). Chapter 22 continues the story of the opposition to Jesus with the Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees seeking to entangle him in his teaching.
A great teachable moment follows: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice’” (23:1-3). That is, they talk the talk but do not walk the walk. We are not to be like that. They are hypocrites; we are not to be like that. They care nothing for others, but only for themselves; we are not to be like that. They are blind; we are not to be like that. They are legalists, concerned about their own rules and regulations, not about God’s; we are not to be like that.
The parable of the ten virgins continues the theme of the previous chapter in which Jesus teaches about the coming kingdom and the need to be prepared for its coming in fullness. And how do we prepare for his return? We do so by being obedient, by feeding the hungry, by giving drink to the thirsty, by welcoming strangers, and by visiting prisoners. That is, we are ready for the Lord’s return if we are busy doing all the things he did. The one who is ready eagerly anticipates Jesus’ commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (25:2).
See that your lamps are burning, replenish them with oil;
and wait for your salvation, the end of earthly toil.
The watchers on the mountain proclaim the Bridegroom near;
meet him as he approaches, with alleluias clear. -- Laurentius Laurenti (1700)