There are two last details I'd like to mention about Sunday's Gospel lesson. The first comes from my handy-dandy Study Bible which notes that the word translated as nations is used elsewhere to mean Gentiles. I mentioned earlier this week that I spent 20 minutes looking for this passage during my GOEs because it had a funky title. That title is "The Judgment of the Gentiles", which, unless you know that little bit of translation trivia makes very little sense. Anyway, this word swap is interesting to me. Matthew is writing in a very charged atmosphere where the Jews and Jewish Christians (and Gentile Christians for that matter) were being less than neighborly to one another. I'm guessing that's why we get the word rendered nations so that EVERYBODY is included in the judgment - at least as we read it. Is the plot any different if it truly is the judgment of the Gentiles? What does that have to say about the periennial question about whether modern day Jews are going to heaven? As I struggle with my sotieriology (theology of salvation) these questions weigh heavily.
The second thing I'd like to mention came in my morning devotion today. I'm a little behind in my reading of Bread for the Journey, a complilation of Henri Nouwen's thoughts for daily consumption. Here is the entry for November 1:
"Going to the Margins of the Church"
Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of soicety. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sister - they require our first attention.
We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreement, fruitless debates, and paralyzing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed wehn our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkalbe experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us.
I can't help but think Nouwen's nailed it on the Judgment of the Gentiles. Get out of your own way in order to get out of God's way.