Tuesday, November 22, 2010

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Revelation 14:14-19; Luke 21:5-11)

After reading the famous judgment scene in Matthew 25, we might wonder, what’s wrong with goats? After all, Jesus never explains why they are used to describe the hell-bound who cared not for the needy. Similarly, we may ask why, in today’s first reading from Revelation, the grape crop is cut and burned while the first fruit harvested is apparently stored and cherished. Nothing is said about the grapes tasting bitter or containing poison.

Perhaps, however, there is something about grapes that intimates corruption. The reading says that the harvested grapes are ripe, that is fully mature – big, round, and juicy. They look nutritious but have little body to provide sustenance. We can think of vain people who would deceive others to consider themselves as more accomplished than they are in reality. Some years ago, for example, the newly hired coach at Notre Dame had to resign for lying on his resume.

Judgment scenes in the Scriptures are notoriously severe. We pray that when we go before the bench, God might forgive our shortcomings as well as those of loved ones. Yet it would be presumptuous to think that we might lie and bluff our way past the just judge that God is. Instead, let us make a habit now of speaking little of ourselves and regarding others, as St. Paul admonishes, as our betters.