Having read Nadia Boltz-Webbers amazing sermon on Matthew 25: 1-13 on the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, a friend of mine came up with more questions, and that really got me thinking, so bringing a hermeneutic of suspicion to the text I question the power of the bridegroom and the harsh manager in the parable that followed. They had the power, and in their power they excluded those who were in need of oil and compassion.
This is my thinking:
The blind see,
the deaf hear,
the lame walk,
the prisoners are freed,
and the kingdom of God is made open for all,
who is judged then,
maybe it is those who have excluded,
the harsh manager who excluded his fearful servant,
the mean bridegroom who did not open the door
to the bridesmaids judged foolish,
when Jesus looks over the crowds at the end of time
will he include the fearful servant, and the foolish bridesmaids?
Is he not more likely to exclude those who excluded them?
So why was the harsh manager so harsh?
He expected much of his servants, and certainly the fearful servant
was concerned about punishment ?
Yet for years we have been told that the harsh manager is a God figure,
rewarding the shrewd and casting out the fearful…
This is not the God I have come to know…
And what about the bridegroom, refusing to open the door to the foolish bridesmaids,
ignoring their request to be admitted,
surely these were his friends,
or surely his brides friends?
Could it be that this manager and this bridegroom are not God/ Christ figures at all,
but false Messiahs welcoming those who look after themselves.
The “wise” bridesmaids were mean, they could have shared their oil or their light,
the harsh manager could have recognised his servants fear…
maybe we are being called to recognise this
in the light of the ministry of the one who went to the margins and to the edges,
light could be shared and compassion could be shown.
Yes we need to be ready,
but that includes being ready to spot the false Messiahs bearing false promises
For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. (Ch 24)…
a smouldering wick won’t be put out,
a bruised reed will not be broken…
who is here to help the servant and the bridesmaids,
with a call to go to the lowest and the least,
in the kin(g)dom where the first shall be last and the last first,
perhaps Jesus is calling us to see the excluded and to go to them.
to see him in his need in them,
and to serve as he would serve,
not for our own gain, but simply because in Christ that is who we are!
For as Jesus taught in the last paragraph of Matthew 25:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.”