Thursday, 21 April 2016

Barth on Matthew 25: The Sheep and The Goats

“The issue will be decided by the attitude and conduct of the community to Him while he is still hidden. Then it will be known what the community will be which will stand at his right hand in the future. But where is he hidden now? With God, at the right hand of the Father? In His word and sacraments? In the mystery of His spirit, which bloweth where it listeth? All this is true enough, but it is presupposed by this parable, and the further point is made, on which everything depends, that He is no less present, though hidden, in all who are now hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and in prison. Wherever in this present time between the resurrection and the parousia one of these is waiting for help (for food, drink, lodging, clothes, a visit, assistance), Jesus is Himself waiting. Wherever help is granted or denied, it is granted or denied to Jesus Himself. For these are the least of his brethren. They represent the world for which he died and rose again, with which he has made himself supremely one, and declared Himself in solidarity. It is for them that He sits at the right hand of the Father, so that no one can know Him in His majesty, or honor and love Him as the Son of God, unless he shows concern for these the least of his brethren. No one can call God His father in Christ’s name unless he treats these as the least of his brethren. This is the test which at the last judgement will decide concerning the true community which will inherit the kingdom: whether in this time of God’s mercy and patience, this time of its mission, it has been the community which has succored its Lord by giving unqualified succor to them in this needy world…...It is to be noted, however, that the righteous and therefore the justified at the last judgement do not know with whom they really have to do when they act with simple humanity (v.37 f.): “When saw thee an hungered, and fed thee….?" They had helped the least of His brethren, they had helped the world in its misery for its own sake. They had no ulterior motive.” (Church Dogmatics III.2.47)   

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