I never knew you

Daily Reading for June 1 • The Third Sunday after Pentecost

“I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers” (Matthew 7:23). The New Testament contains many descriptions of the last judgment like this one: Be on the right side, they all say, or at the end of time Jesus will not choose you. It will be like those terrible, unforgettable moments in elementary school then, when you were last to be chosen to be on a team. So that’s what it’ll be like, then: It’s a competition in the afterlife, just as it is here on the earth.

We were hoping for something different.

And I think what we have is something different. That the people writing the many different books and letters that comprise these earliest documents of our faith were preoccupied with the end of the world is clear. They thought it was imminent, a matter of months, a year or two at the most. . . . They wrote out of who they were. Who they were was competitive and afraid of being wrong, defensive of their territory and their ways, anxious about being overrun by other cultures. In short, they were rather like us. They imagined that God was probably like that, too: territorial, anxious, defensive. We imagine that, as well.

But God is very different from us. We don’t get very far at all in our project of imagining God. Mostly, we try to stay in touch: to be still and hear the voice of God, always aware that we tend to mistake other voices for his. I never knew you, a gatekeeper Jesus says at the end of time, in the imagination of a New Testament writer. But he does know us. Better than we know ourselves.

From Let Us Bless the Lord, Year One: Meditations on the Daily Office, Vol. 1, Advent through Holy Week by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton. Copyright © 2004. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. www.morehousepublishing.com

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