16 November 2008

A demanding person?

As I sold tickets last night at the doors for the high school play, the parents of one of the actors (who is also on the wrestling team) asked me a great question about today's Gospel.

He asked what it meant to call Jesus "a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering when you did not scatter" (Matthew 25:24).

Origen answers the question this way:
The righteous man "sows in the Spirit," from which he will also "reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:8). Everything that is sown and reaped for eternal life by the righteous man, God reaps. The righteous man belongs to God, who reaps where not he but the righteous man has sown. So we may say that the righteous man has "scattered and given to the poor" (II Corinthians 9:9). The Lord, however, gathers to himself whatever the righteous man has "scattered and given to the poor." Reaping what he has not sown and gathering where he has not winnowed, he counts as having been done to himself whatever the faithful have sown or winnowed for the poor. He says to those who have done good to their neighbors: "Come you, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom which was prepared for you. I was hungry and you gave me to eat..." (Matthew 25:34-35).

And since he wishes to reap where he did not sow and to gather where he did not winnow, when he does not find anything, he says to those who failed to reap and gather: "Depart from me, you wicked, into everlasting fire, which my Father has prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you did not give me to eat" (Matthew 25:41).

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