Re: Parable of Sheep & Goats

Traditional reading of
>this parable understands it as referring to the final judgment of humanity,
>based on moral performance, specifically, service to neighbor.  Recent
>exegetes (Reginald Fuller, Jan Lambrecht, e.g.,) argue that the parable
>refers to the judgment of the nations based of their response to the
>mission of the Church.  They argue that "my brethren" in v. 40 actually
>refers to Christian disciples and
>adduce 10:40-42 for support of this interpretation.  Is this "newer"
>interpretation as strong today as it was a few years ago?

Strange coincidence...

Just last night I made a small group presentation on the parable offering
this very interpretation! H. Benedict Green's Commentary on Matthew
proposes this interpretation. Being the last of the parables, and on the
endtime, it just may be offered as an answer to the question: "Now that you
have talked about what will happen to us believers, what will become of the
Gentiles, those who will not have heard the gospel?" This could explain why
the sheep and goats are `surprised' when they are told they were responding
to Christ in their good deeds. I think the key word in v. 40 is not
bretheren but `least'; this is what links it with 10:42  (as well as
18:6,10,14). The characteristics of the true disciple expressed in the
Beatitudes also fits this. I find some difficulty with the notion that
identifies Jesus with the poor and rejected of society in some sort of
exclusive sense as if he had some sort of preference for one sort of people
over another. I can see that the `poor' themselves had a preference for
Jesus more so than the `rich', and that true disciples were willing to and
often had to accept a marginalized place in society. The disciples, like
Jesus, go to ALL people in society poor, rich, Jew, Gentile, etc. and
inasmuch as the disciples were the ones hearing the parable, it is a
challenge to become little ones, to be a true presence of Christ to the

Br. Alexis Doval, FSC
Religious Studies Department
P.O. Box 5150
St. Mary's College
Moraga, California  94575

Tel: (510)631-4091
Internet: adoval@galileo.stmarys-ca.edu