The month of November is a lectionary train wreck. The calendars of liturgical and secular feast days collide so that Halloween, All Saints’ Day, Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year, and lighting the first Advent candle all fall within 30 days.
This month we read the entirety of Matthew 25, but the crescendo of this “eschatological discourse”—which precedes the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection—is cut off abruptly by the start of Advent. Before we have faced Jesus’ death in Jerusalem, we are studying the signs that point us to his birth in Galilee. With no closure, we end our intense and bewildering grapple with the gospel of Matthew.
During a month in which there is an excess of consumption and charity but little focus on concrete social change, we hear a gospel reading about economic realities in first-century Palestine that is entirely relevant today: predatory investment, greed, and the accumulation of wealth. “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). Perhaps we can keep this verse and “those who have nothing” in our prayers and our actions.