“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.”Those on the right, the sheep, are told to come and inherit the Kingdom. Those on the left do not fare as well. Or, at least this is the common understanding of these verses. The sheep are bound for heaven, while the goats to eternal perdition. One is either a sheep or a goat, there is no in-between. Two groups. Very simple. Very black and white. You know, the way most of us like our theology.And yet, I wonder. So too did Sergius Bulgakov. There are alternative readings to what we call the “final judgment,” or the end times. Bulgakov offered such a reading, which I find compelling and closer to the over-all sweep of Scripture, the Christian narrative, and of the God portrayed therein.What partly formed his reading of Matthew 25 and the sheep and the goats, was his view of what “judgment” entailed and meant. We normally view judgment as something happening outside ourselves. We stand before an external judge who makes a decision regarding our lives, our souls. It is something handed down to us, rendered or decreed. It is separate from our own judgment, reflection, or internal calculus.
Easter Sunday Afternoon
HE WAS STOOPED OVER AND ABOUT five-foot-five on a freeway entrance on I-5 northbound, with two good-sized paper grocery bags. Bundled up as he was, you could not discern by a scraggly grey-streaked beard; could have easily been fifty or older, but, stocking-capped, it was hard to tell.
“Oh thanks, oh thanks,”He said.
“I need a seven-mile ride!” He said.
Clear blue sky met us both and the twenty-year-old Ford picked up to freeway speed, and he was settling in with his bags at his feet. There were four, quart bottles of Rainer Ale.
“Warming up eh?” He said.
“Well yes, and its Easter,” I say, and I told him I’d just been to church, told him the Pastor preached the Road to Emmaus, and…
“Luke 24!” He said.
“They were walking with Jesus!” He said.
“Didn’t know it was Him!” He said.
I thought of stumbling over some point this Pastor had made, then I stopped. He knew scripture; I listened.
“Didn’t know, until they broke bread with him, Ha!” He said, slapping his knee.
“Got me a bridge up here I like!” He said, almost growling.
“Stays nice and dry, I can have a little fire, and nobody sees the smoke.” He said.
“I stopped being able to live inside about fifteen years ago,” He said.
“Don’t know why, I can’t live inside. I do pretty good. I worry in the winter that my feet will freeze.” He said.
“I do pretty good though, see my way around, find places like this bridge,” He said.
“Haven’t been rolled in two years,” He said.
“I can’t live inside.” He said.
“Wrap my feet with paper on winter nights.” He said.
“I’m afraid in the winter my feet might freeze,” He repeated.
“My feet froze seven years ago, lost one toe.” He said.
“But it’s getting warm now.” He said.
“I do pretty good.” He said.
When we arrived at the bridge, I got off onto the freeway shoulder with my Ford, and we talked for a while. My heart burned. I remembered I’d just bought a box of oranges. I got out and retrieved a dozen to a plastic bag from the trunk, I’d just done laundry and there were wool socks on top of the laundry basket, I put those in with the oranges and I found a twenty and gave him that too.
“He is risen!” I said.
“He is risen indeed!” He said, then vanished down under a roadbed bridge home.
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And the Fires We Talked About–Copyright © 2020 by James Ross Kelly
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The true Church Will Not Sacrifice Anyone. Anyone suggesting sacrifice of the elderly or any one else for the economy would be evil. It is a simple test to see what side you are on.
And when everyone else says it will be too hard or the sacrifice is too great or surely some people can be expended, the Church must have the clarity and conviction to say no. Not today. Not in two weeks. Not in six months. No, no, no, we will fight for the survival of every last man and woman made in God’s image. We will defend their lives and their dignity and the country will have to find another way to rescue its economy. The avenue of human sacrifice is not open to them. The Church is blocking it.
IIt’s an undignified position for any person but the Church, in particular, ought to be above this. Christian teaching has always held that life is sacred and worth defending at any cost. Jesus told of a shepherd who left 99 sheep behind to go rescue the one lost lamb (Matthew 18: 12-14). It was not a practical decision, any more than dying on a cross to save the world is practical. But such is the price of the Church’s most radical teaching: that every single life has value, and no human being is expendable.
Officials reported that China appeared to be downplaying the outbreak and said swift action could be needed to contain the coronavirus.