The Mystery of Faith

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
(Luke 10:21-24)

Scripture Study

10:21 Lord of heaven and earth A title emphasizing the authority of God over all of creation (compare Acts 17:24–26). revealed them to the childlike indicating status rather than age. Compare Matt 10:42.

10:22 All things have been handed over to me Compare Matt 28:18.

10:24 to see what you see For centuries, the righteous among God’s people had desired to see the arrival of God’s kingdom (compare Luke 2:25–26). 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in the Gospel we hear Jesus in intimate conversation with his Father. The passage invites us into very deep mysteries. Jesus addresses his Father and thereby reveals his own deepest identity within the Holy Trinity. He says, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them to the little ones.”

It is important to keep in mind that this is not simply a good and holy man addressing God, but rather the very Son of God addressing his Father. We are being given a share in the inner life of God, the conversation between the first two Trinitarian persons.

And what are the “things” that have been concealed from the learned and revealed to the little ones? Nothing other than the mystery of Jesus’ relationship to his Father, the love that obtains between Father and Son, the inner life of God. From the beginning, this is what God wanted to give us.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

A Faith in Christ

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 8:5-11)

Scripture Study

8:5 Capernaum Town where Jesus based His ministry in Galilee (4:13). See note on Luke 4:31. centurion A Roman military officer who commanded about 80 men. These officers served their entire careers as soldiers and were highly experienced and esteemed. appealed to him The Greek word used here, parakaleō, carries the sense of strongly urging or begging. Matthew’s choice of words would have conveyed a shocking scene: A high-ranking Roman military official—part of the imperial forces currently occupying Palestine—begs for help from one of the subjugated people, even calling him “Lord” (Matt 8:8).

8:6 my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully The servant is bedridden and in great pain; in Luke’s parallel account (Lk 7:1–10), he is about to die. The Greek term used here, paralytikos, refers to being disabled or crippled. This healing backs up Matthew’s earlier report about Jesus’ power to heal paralysis, among other conditions (Matt 4:24).

8:8 Lord I am not worthy The centurion humbles himself before Jesus, who would have been perceived as a lowly Jewish rabbi. He also might be indicating an awareness that Jews could not acceptably enter the homes of Gentiles (see Acts 10:28; 11:3). only say the word A statement of faith. The centurion expresses belief not only in Jesus’ authority over sickness and disease, but also over time and space (anticipating His ability to heal from a distance).

8:9 For I too am a man subject to authority The centurion served within a chain of command; his own authority was derived from those above him. He seems to recognize a similar situation with Jesus, whose authority comes from God (Matt 11:27; 28:18).

8:10 he was amazed Matthew frequently refers to the astonishment of Jesus’ audience (e.g., vv. 27; 9:33; 15:31; 22:22), but this is the only place in this Gospel where Jesus Himself is astonished (compare Mark 6:6; Luke 7:9). He uses the opportunity to teach His followers about faith. Amen, I say to you Jesus employs this statement throughout His ministry to emphasize the words that follow. in no one in Israel have I found such faith Jesus makes the astounding statement that no Jew has as much faith as this Gentile (non-Jew). Jesus often describes His own followers as having very little faith (Matt 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8).

8:11 many will come from east and west Refers to many Gentiles, in addition to the centurion. Jesus is pointing to the time when people all over the world would become His followers. will recline Refers to the messianic banquet that will accompany the end of the age (compare 22:1–14; Rev 19:6–10). The Old Testament predicts a gathering of Israel from all over the earth (e.g., Isa 43:5–6; Psa 107:3), as well as the Gentiles’ worship of God (e.g., Isa 2; 60:3–4; Mic 4:1–2; Zech 8:20–23). Abraham, Isaac and Jacob The three patriarchs of the Jewish faith.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel passage acclaims a centurion’s trust in the Lord Jesus. To trust is to have hope, to turn one’s heart to God. It means to root one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns in God. And, oppositely, to trust and to turn one’s heart to human beings means to root the whole of one’s life, to ground and center one’s concerns, in the things of this world, in wealth, fame, power, honor, or pleasure.

What is the center of gravity of your life? What is your “ultimate concern’”? The Bible consistently lays this out as an either/or. Think of the passage in the book of Joshua, when Joshua lays it on the line for the people of Israel: “Do you serve the Lord or some other gods?”

Jesus tells his followers, “Either you are with me or you are against me.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that we each have to answer this question with great honesty and clarity.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Watch and Prepare

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”
(Mark 13:33-37)

Scripture Study

13:34 places his servants in charge Compare 12:1–12.

13:35 Watch When Jesus leaves, He tells His followers to proclaim the gospel in all the world (v. 10; compare Matt 28:16–20; Acts 1:6–9). Remaining alert requires expectant faithfulness to Jesus until He returns in glory. whether in the evening The time references here parallel four markers in the Passion Narrative that follows: the evening Passover meal (Mark 14:17), Jesus’ nighttime arrest in Gethsemane (14:41), His arraignment before the temple leaders when the rooster crows (14:68, 72), and His appearance before Pilate when morning comes (15:1).

13:37 I say to all Jesus clarifies that His charge to remain alert is for all who follow Him, not simply the four disciples who are present for this teaching (v. 3).

“Watch”: since we do not know when the Lord will come, we must be prepared. Vigilance is, above all, love. A person who loves keeps the commandments and looks forward to Christ’s return; for life is a period of hope and waiting. It is the way towards our encounter with Christ the Lord. The first Christians often tenderly repeated the aspiration: “Come, Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20). By expressing their faith and charity in this way, those Christians found the interior strength and optimism necessary for fulfilling their family and social duties, and interiorly detached themselves from earthly goods, with the self-mastery that came from the hope of eternal life.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel urges us to stay alert as we await the coming of the Lord. Advent is the season of waiting. We place ourselves in the position of those who, over the centuries, waited for the coming of the Messiah. With them, we cry out, “How long, O Lord?”

Though Jesus fulfilled the expectations of his people, nevertheless we still wait. The liturgy states it very clearly: “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” In one of the Eucharistic prayers, we find, “as we await his coming in glory…” The Creed says, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” And the very last words of the New Testament are “Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.”

What do we make of all of this? Do we really think that he is going to come again and walk on the earth? We stay awake in our waiting if we pray on a regular basis; if we educate ourselves in the faith; if we participate in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; if we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; if we become people of love.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Beware

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
(Luke 21:34-36)

Scripture Study

21:34 the anxieties of daily life Reminiscent of the seed sown among the thorns in the parable of the sower (Luke 8:14).

21:35 that day will assault everyone Indicates the universality of judgment.

21:36 to stand before the Son of Man Refers to being judged by Him (see Rev 20:11–15).

Scripture Reflection

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” Lk 21:34

How easy is it to be captured by the everyday worry of life? I am not certain if others have been affected by this crazy malady, but I can find myself heading out to the store still noodling over some issue or event that took place earlier in the day, and suddenly realize that I am actually driving to the office and not the store!

Mary Marrocco, writing in Living Faith, noted that this commandment is one of the harder ones Jesus presents to us. Namely, to take care of our hearts. The demands and anxieties of our daily life, which can be many, often distract us from taking care of our hearts. We may not always realize that we’re neglecting our heart, especially if we aren’t exactly carousing or getting drunk.

Mary goes on to say that we can become so focused on our anxieties and cares that we can miss the simple things in life, like a beautiful sunrise. In worrying ourselves, we are actually taking on a role that the Lord wants to take on for us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). When we learn to turn our cares over to him, our hearts will be lightened and we will remember how great is his care for us.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

My Words Will Not Pass Away

Jesus told his disciples a parable.
“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”
(Luke 21:29-33)

Scripture Study

21:29–33 Jesus delivers a parable about a fig tree, encouraging His disciples to discern the signs of the times. Compare Matt 24:32–36; Mark 13:28–32.

21:31 when you see these things happening Refers to the events Jesus describes in vv. 8–28—especially the final signs before His second coming (vv. 25–28). the kingdom of God The culmination of apocalyptic events is the arrival of the Son of Man—Jesus—in power and glory (v. 27) and the full establishment of God’s reign.

21:32 this generation Jesus seems to be referring to the present age of humanity (before God’s rule is fully established). The context of Jesus’ remarks is the final judgment (Mark 13:26–27), which will occur at a time known only to the Father (v. 32). This seems to rule out the possibility that Jesus is referring only to the generation of people in His day.

21:33 Heaven and earth will pass away Compare Rev 21:1–8.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel passage Jesus speaks of the time when the plan of God will be fulfilled. Some philosophies defend a circular or cyclical understanding of time. They hold that time just continually circles back on itself, repeating like the cycles of the seasons. The modern philosopher Nietzsche spoke of the “eternal return of the same.” That’s a mythic consciousness, and it can be found all over the world.

But the Jews had a very different sense of time, what we might call “linear.” They felt that time was moving somewhere, that it had, under God’s direction, a purpose. The past was not simply there to be repeated endlessly; rather, the past was a preparation for a definitive future. It was an anticipation of what God would do, what God was going to accomplish.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Follow

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
(Matthew 4:18-22)

Scripture Study

4:18 two brothers Capernaum was small, and Jesus had been preaching the coming of the kingdom of heaven (compare v. 17). The two brothers, Peter and Andrew, had probably already heard of Jesus. casting a net A small, circular net that a single person could handle. Fishermen in the ancient Near East had various nets—including the seine and the dragnet—and would alternate depending on the intended catch.

4:19 I will make you fishers of men Probably describes a change of vocation. Whereas they used to draw fish from the sea, they will now draw people into God’s kingdom.

4:21 two other brothers James and John were associated with Andrew and Simon Peter. They were likely also familiar with Jesus. See note on Matt 4:18. mending their nets Ancient fishing nets were made of organic fibers and would degrade rapidly. In order to preserve them, fishermen would let the nets dry when not using them. They often required mending.

4:22 left their boat and their father James and John probably also expect to return to their trade. Hearing Jesus and watching His signs will be the true cause of their becoming lifelong disciples.

Scripture Reflection

These four disciples had already met our Lord and their brief meeting with him seems to have had a powerful effect on their souls. In this way, Christ prepared their vocation, a fully effective vocation which moved them to leave everything behind so as to follow him and be their disciples. Standing out above their human defects (which the Gospels never conceal), we can see the exemplary generosity and promptness of the apostles in answering God’s call.

The thoughtful reader cannot fail to be struck by the delightful simplicity with which the evangelists describe the calling of these men in the midst of their daily work. God draws us from the shadows of our ignorance, our groping through history, and, no matter what our occupation in the world, he calls us in a loud voice, as he once called Peter and Andrew.

This divine and human dialogue completely changed the lives of John and Andrew, and Peter and James and so many others. It prepared their hearts to listen to the authoritative teaching which Jesus gave them beside the Sea of Galilee.

We should notice the words Sacred Scripture uses to describe the eagerness with which these apostles follow our Lord. Peter and Andrew “immediately” left their nets and followed him. Similarly, James and John “immediately” left their boats and their father and followed him. God passes by and calls us. If we do not answer him “immediately”, he may continue on his way and we could lose sight of him. When God passes us by, he may do so rapidly; it would be sad if we were to fall behind because we wanted to follow him while still carrying many things that are only a dead weight and a nuisance.

– St Josemaría Escrivá

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Because of My Name

Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
(Luke 21:12-19)

Scripture Study

21:12 will seize and persecute you Jesus describes the suffering that His disciples will undergo. In Acts, Luke details some of this persecution (e.g., Acts 5:17–18; 7:54–8:3; 12:1–5).

21:13 your giving testimony Persecution will give Jesus’ followers opportunities to proclaim the gospel.

21:15 I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking Earlier in Luke, this ability to testify about God’s work is attributed to the Holy Spirit [The Spirit will give the disciples an appropriate response. This might not necessarily lead to their acquittal (all but one of the apostles reportedly died as martyrs), but it will bear faithful witness to the gospel (Luke 12:12). Here, Jesus says that He Himself will empower His followers to speak wisely and persuasively, showing a strong connection between Jesus and the Holy Spirit [The Greek term used here, paraklētos, refers to a legal assistant in a court who pleads someone’s case before the judge (compare 1 John 2:1). The judge is God, and people are judged based on whether they follow Jesus’ command to believe that eternal life comes through His death and resurrection (John 12:48–50). When on earth, Jesus was the means for believers to interact with God the Father since their sin prevented them from doing so directly. The Spirit is sent to do the same work. This is one of His many tasks (John 14:26).

21:16 by parents and brothers, relatives Compare Luke 12:49–53.

21:18 you will secure your lives Likely refers to eternal life in the age to come [Refers to the age that will follow final judgment—when God’s enemies are defeated and His kingdom is fully established (compare Rev 20–21)]. Verse 16 states that some of the disciples will be put to death, and church tradition holds that all but one (John) were martyred. Jesus is thus referencing the eternal fate of His followers.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel passage describes the persecution Christians face before the end of the world. When will the Church stop being persecuted? When the Lord returns, but not before.

From the earliest days until the present, the community of Jesus Christ has been the focus of the world’s violence. The old principle of “killing the messenger” applies here. The Church will announce, until the end of time, that the old world is passing away, that a new world of love, non-violence, and life is emerging. This announcement always infuriates the world of sin, which explains why the twentieth century was the bloodiest on record—and the one with the most martyrs.

What do we do in the meantime? We maintain a detachment from the world that is passing away, our eyes fixed on the world that will never end. And we speak confidently, boldly, provocatively the message of the Gospel, the dying and rising of the Lord.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

A Matter of Time

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”
(Luke 21:5-11)

Scripture Study

21:6 not be left a stone upon another stone This likely describes the destruction of the temple—and most of Jerusalem—by the Romans in ad 70 (compare Luke 19:41–44).

21:7 what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen Refers to Jesus’ comment about the destruction of the temple (v. 6).

21:8 many will come in my name Jesus might be referring to people claiming to be the Messiah or people falsely claiming to work under Jesus’ authority.

21:10 nation will rise up against nation Language reminiscent of several ot passages (e.g., 2 Chr 15:6; Isa 19:2).

21:11 powerful earthquakes and famines and plagues Common motifs of divine judgment (e.g., Deut 32:24; Ezek 6:11; Rev 6:12; 16:18).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus responds to questions about the end of the world. When will it come? What will happen?

Why were the first Christians interested in these questions? The simplest and deepest answer is that they had experienced the end of the world—precisely in the dying and rising of Jesus.

Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, and the nations conspired against him. The old world seemed to conquer this new world that Jesus embodied. But then, in the Resurrection, they saw that the old world—the world predicated upon death and the world that had done Jesus in—was now defeated.

So awed were they by the Resurrection—and you can sense it in every book and letter of the New Testament—that they awaited the imminent arrival of the new state of affairs, the return of Jesus and the establishment of God’s kingdom. Though Jesus did not immediately return, the old world was over, broken, compromised, its destruction now just a matter of time.

– Bishop Robert Barron

Our Whole Livelihood

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.

He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
(Luke 21:1-4)

Scripture Study

21:1 contribution box The Greek word used here, gazophylakion, may refer to a room in the temple or to a box used to collect contributions.

21:2 two small copper coins The coins described here had the least value of any currency in Jesus’ time.

21:4 all the means of subsistence The Greek phrase used here means “all the livelihood” or “all the life,” implying that her giving was so generous it could impede upon her survival. This links the widow’s action to the greatest commandment [While the Hebrew text of Deut 6:5 includes three aspects of loving God, Jesus lists four, including a reference to the “mind.” In ancient Hebrew thought, the heart was the seat of human intelligence and will. When the scribe (teacher of the law) restates the command, he refers to “understanding” rather than “soul” and “mind” (Mark 12:33). Jesus then recognizes that the scribe has answered “wisely” or “with understanding”] and to Jesus’ explanation of what belongs to God [Jesus’ teaching makes clear that His followers should be willing to be subject to political authorities (provided that it does not compromise their allegiance to Him). However, just as denarii belong to Caesar because they bear his image, the whole of one’s life belongs to God because people bear the image of God (Gen 1:26–27)]. 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel tells of the poor widow who gave her last penny to the Temple treasury. Her behavior makes us consider our possessiveness. What do we tell ourselves all the time? That we’re not happy because we don’t have all the things that we should have or that we want to have. What follows from this is that life becomes a constant quest to get, to acquire, to attain possessions.

Do you remember the parable about the foolish rich man? When his barns were filled with all his possessions, he decided to tear them down and build bigger ones. Why is he a fool? Because (and I want you to repeat this to yourself as I say it) you have everything you need right now to be happy.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

Least Ones

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
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.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
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.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
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.’
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?’
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.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46)

Scripture Study

25:31 Son of Man Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the ot book of Daniel (see Dan 7:13 and note). This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus. Here, however, it highlights His position as a homeless itinerant. and all the angels with him See 24:30–31.

25:32 a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats When shepherds brought in their flocks at the end of the day, they typically put the goats in a sheltered area while leaving the sheep in an open-air pen.

25:34 Inherit the kingdom prepared for you The Jewish worldview of Jesus’ day envisioned the present age ending with a time of tribulation, followed by divine judgment. Then God’s kingdom—the age to come—would be fully inaugurated. This schema also is reflected in the books of Daniel and Revelation.

The Greek word used for revelation (apokalypsis) carries the idea of “revealing” or “unveiling.” This identifies the function of John’s Revelation: it is revelatory in nature. As an apocalyptic text, it relates to Dan 7–12, as well as portions of the Gospels (see Mark 13) and other deuterocanonical literature of the Second Temple period. While these other works contain apocalyptic literature, Revelation is the only biblical book comprised entirely of such material. The notions of “revealing” or “unveiling” link Revelation to the apocalyptic material of Daniel (see Dan 2:28–30, 45b–47). Much of John’s Revelation refers back to concepts and imagery introduced by Daniel.

Ultimately, Revelation is both “hope literature” and “crisis literature”: it is meant to instill hope during a period of crisis. It tells readers that they will not be harmed spiritually if they remain faithful. It also presents an end to physical suffering—trials will be vindicated when the Lamb judges the nations of the world. The reward for faithfulness will be eternal life spent in the presence of God (see Rev 21:3–5).

25:35 For I was hungry The actions described here (and in the next verse) reflect obedience to the command to love one’s neighbor—and thereby demonstrate love for God, as well (22:37–39).

25:40 for one of these least brothers Jesus’ remarks here call for Christian care to reach all the way to the bottom of the social structure, thus inverting earthly values.

25:41 eternal fire A symbol of divine wrath. Fire also became an image for final punishment—especially connected with the Valley of Ben-Hinnom (2 Chr 33:6; Jer 7:31–32) on the west side of Jerusalem at Wadi er-Rababi.

25:45 for one of these least ones Jesus’ remarks here call for Christian care to reach all the way to the bottom of the social structure, thus inverting earthly values.

Scripture Reflection

The Christian’s role in mission is made so abundantly clear in chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel: do we see Christ in every needy person and do we act on that reality in works of charity and compassion?

While “these least brothers of mine” may be understood as Christian disciples, there is a long tradition of identifying them as all people in need. According to this interpretation, Jesus expresses his identification not only with those who have become his followers (his brothers and sisters in the sense of his followers) but with every human person who suffers and is in need of compassion (his brothers and sisters in the sense of all fellow human beings).

After all, Jesus does identify in a special way with the poor and underprivileged, regardless of their age, sex, nationality, or creed. Being their creator, his image is pressed upon every living person (see Gen 1:27).

Likewise, if works of charity and compassion are expected of non-Christians, how much more are the followers of Jesus expected to put love into action through service to others. Those who confess Jesus as “Lord” are obligated to do the will of the Father in all of its various applications in order to “enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 7:21).

– Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.