Separating The Wicked from the Righteous

In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples what it will be like “at the end of the age.” The wicked will be separated from the righteous and the former thrown into the furnace. In several other passages in the Gospels, Jesus conveys the same message about separating the wheat form the chaff.

One question you might ask yourself is: how do you react to that news?

I get the sense that some people hear passages like this one with something approaching glee, happy that those they deem unworthy (on whatever grounds they make that calculus) will get their comeuppance. They are confident they will be chosen with the righteous and are happy to dismiss those who will be thrown in the furnace. And so they hear this passage with a kind of “gotcha” reaction.

I don’t think that is God’s reaction. I believe that God wants to reconcile all people to God’s self. And I am confident that if God had God’s druthers, at the end of the day there would be no one tossed into the furnace. Everyone would be sitting around the table enjoying fellowship with God.

God’s reaction should guide our own. These warnings of Jesus are not meant to cause us to judge each other. Rather, they should cause us to examine what we might do to help advance God’s desire. How might we help and encourage others so that they will be gathered with the righteous?