20 November 2011
Last Sunday after Pentecost
Reign of Christ
Proper 29A (RCL)
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
We have heard this passage from Matthew’s Gospel so often, we don’t hear it anymore. A banner for each of the congregations in our diocese hangs at the Cathedral. The banner for St. Martin’s Church has a single word on it: “inasmuch”. We all know what it means, right? What troubles me about the parable (or allegory) as Matthew presents it, is that not even the righteous recognize the Christ when they do their good deeds. When we do our good deeds with that phrase, “inasmuch” in the back of our mind, does that disqualify the deed from being done to Christ?
The passage from the letter to the Ephesians speaks of us “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened,” so that we can see a whole list of things: The hope to which we are called, the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints and the immeasurable greatness of his power. All of these things we are to recognize in the risen Christ: The author prays that God will give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation “in the recognition of him” (the translation “as you come to know him” doesn’t really work). The power that we are to see in the resurrected Christ stands in direct opposition to every “ruler and authority and power and lordship” not only in this age but the age to come. And all of these things God has put under the feet of the one who is the head of the Church, which is his body, the fullness which fills everything with everything.
Startlingly, it is the church which is the fullness that fill everything with everything. We are the power of the resurrected Christ! I suppose what we don’t see is our own power. Our power to fill the world with God’s goodness, with the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and all that other good stuff. That is why we need the eyes of our hearts enlightened: to see what we do as powerful, as even more powerful than the rulers, authorities, powers and lordships of this age and the age to come. Not a way we tend to think of what we do in Church.
That may be a bit like the talents which the master gave into the hands of his servants.