Hell is my neighbour- Thursday – 21st week in ordinary time- Matthew 24: 42- 51
For some reason the lectionary takes a huge leap and plunges right into the sixth and last discourse of Matthew’s Gospel. Comprising of Chapter 24 and 25, the Eschatological discourse or the discourse on the end times preoccupies itself with the Parousia or the Lord’s second coming.
The Gospel of Matthew was penned somewhere after 80 AD. By this time the apostles had been martyred and so were many of the inner circle of Jesus. The Early Church had constantly lived in the hope that the second coming of Jesus or His Parousia was an imminent reality. That unfortunately did not seem to happen and hope among the followers of Christ was fading fast.
Many of the disciples now began to hanker for a more relaxed form of Christian discipleship as opposed to the more rigorous devotion that had once enthused the community. The desire to ‘work’ for the Church seemed to be lost in materialistic desires. The ‘eating and drinking’ is now in the company of drunkards (verse 49) and fellow Christians are treated like slaves.
Matthew wants to send a clear message of warning to his community; shake off lethargy and shrug off the hopelessness that had set in. The Lord would come as He promised even though He did not come as soon as they imagined or wished for. The disciples need to be watchful like a householder who watches over his home, protecting it from thieves. The message to the community is crystal clear, “you too must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
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