Questions for the Teacher — New Interpretation of Matthew 25: 1-13

My thanks to Katie Fiegenbaum for turning around a translation of Gerardo Oberman’s profound re-interpretation of Matthew 25: 1-1. Gerardo’s Spanish from Argentina (which is a Spanish of particular beauty) follows.

Questions for the teacher
(In light of Matthew 25: 1-13)

Perhaps you are asking me, teacher
to be numb to the needs
of those who have been mistaken in life?
Perhaps you expect me to continue on my path
without consideration for who is by my side,
who asks me for something that I can give,
who waits for a gesture of solidarity.
Perhaps I should judge my neighbors
for their forgetfulness, for their exhaustion,
for their mistakes or for anything else.

Was it not my mission, the one you taught me,
to clothe the naked,
to break bread with the hungry,
to give water to those who are thirsty,
to visit those who are lonely,
to accompany those in need,
to liberate those who are oppressed?
Should I deny them a little oil
just to be able to save myself?
Could I, in your name,
abandon others outside?
Oh, how beautiful the celebration will be,
how abundant the table will be,
how generous the groom will be…
Can I ignore the cries
of those who also want to be part
of the celebration of your Kingdom?

I cannot, Jesus.
I am sorry, but I cannot.
Perhaps I will stay outside,
perhaps my oil will not be enough
to await you with my lamp lit.
But it would not be true to your Gospel
if I thought solely of me,
if my aim was to save myself in solitude.

I do not know the day, nor the time that you will arrive
that the generous celebration of your Kingdom
will be heralded with music and with dancing,
with wine and with abundance,
that the hour of justice and fulfillment
will have arrived once and for all.

Even so, good Jesus,
I cannot selfishly hoard that oil…
Someone needs it, someone is asking for it
and someone would be left out of your celebration
if we do not share it.

Preguntas al maestro
(A la luz de Mateo 25:1-13)

¿Acaso me pides, maestro,
que sea insensible a la necesidad
de quien en la vida se ha equivocado?
¿Acaso esperas que siga mi camino
sin considerar a quien tengo a mi lado,
a quien me pide algo que puedo darle,
a quien espera un gesto de solidaridad?
¿Acaso debo juzgar a mis prójimos
por sus olvidos, por su cansancio,
por sus descuidos o por lo que fuere?
¿No era mi misión, la que me enseñaste,
vestir al desnudo,
compartir el pan con el hambriento,
dar de beber a quien tiene sed,
visitar a las personas solas,
acompañar a quien necesita,
liberar a quien sufre opresión?
¿Debo negar ahora un poco de aceite
sólo para acceder a salvarme yo?
¿Puedo, acaso, en tu nombre,
dejar afuera a otras personas?
Por bonita que sea la fiesta,
por abundante que sea la mesa,
por generoso que sea el novio…
¿puedo desoír el clamor
de quienes también quieren ser parte
de la fiesta de tu Reino?

Yo no puedo, Jesús.
Lo siento, pero no puedo.
Quizá me quede afuera,
quizá mi aceite no alcance
para esperarte con mi lámpara encendida.
Pero no sería fiel a tu Evangelio
si pensara solamente en mí,
si mi objetivo fuera salvarme en soledad.

No conozco el día, tampoco la hora en que llegarás
para que la fiesta generosa de tu Reino
anuncie con música y con bailes,
con vino y con abundancia,
que la hora de la justicia y de la plenitud
ha llegado de una vez para siempre.

Aún así, buen Jesús,
no puedo quedarme egoístamente con aquel aceite…
Alguien lo necesita, alguien lo pide
y alguien se quedaría afuera de tu fiesta
si no lo compartiera.

Gerardo Oberman

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2 Responses to Questions for the Teacher — New Interpretation of Matthew 25: 1-13

  1. Emily Geoghegan says:

    I like it!! Have always been troubled by this! Emily

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Maren says:

    I have too. I have always interpreted around it by suggesting there are things we cannot give someone else — energy, peace of mind, etc. but really I have always been troubled by the text.

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