Peter explains the crucifixion of the messiah accordingly in Acts 2: ‘This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses…Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified’ (Acts 2.32, 36).
The path to the Davidic throne came, not by a reversal of fortunes, but by submitting as [the servant]. Thus, the lowly are lifted up, not by joining a conquering king, but as a conquering king joins them. — Nathan Eubank
As good procrastinators, we can often think that the “Four Last Things” — death, judgment, heaven, hell — as simply about what happens later, like a looming “Act II” of human life. But for Christians, the final judgment we will face after death is to be the measure and standard of how we are to live now, in the present. Which means we are to remain in the awareness of death, living sub specie aeternitatis “from the perspective of eternity” as if “now is the judgment of this world” (12:31).
We are to begin each new moment with the End in mind.
If today’s Gospel (Matthew 25) tells us anything, it is that the End sharpens focus on life’s purpose with devastating clarity: I exist to do works of mercy, deeds of compassion. Human perfection is defined by Jesus as being “compassionate [oiktirmones] as also your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36). The opportunities are vast. Look around you, everywhere there is human misery, loneliness, sadness, pain, hunger, injustice — the festering wounds of our tragic folly awaiting the healing salve of the works of mercy.
Christ the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) has revealed the world as the road to Jericho, that city felled by human violence, and he invites us to join him in rebuilding its ruins as his mystical Body … not by encircling it while blowing liturgical trumpets calling for its destruction (nor passing by it in the violence of apathy), but by stooping down and into its violence, risking death ourselves, to bring about its restoration by deeds of mercy.
It would not be an exaggeration to say this Gospel tells us that all aspects of our lives, all elements of our vocations, all the treasures of faith exist to serve augmenting our capacity to be — in the image of the Father — compassionate in whatever small or great measure we are able. When we do such deeds, “the kingdom of God has drawn near” (Mark 1:15), heaven is wedded to earth and man is reconciled to God.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8