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The Lesson of the Fig Tree
32 ‘From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he* is near, at the very gates.34Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.<!– 36 –>
The Necessity for Watchfulness
36 ‘But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,* but only the Father.37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day* your Lord is coming.43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.<!– 45 –>
The Faithful or the Unfaithful Slave
45 ‘Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves* their allowance of food at the proper time?46Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.47Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.48But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed”,49and he begins to beat his fellow-slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards,50the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know.51He will cut him in pieces* and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew gives his readers much-needed advice as they wait for God’s kingdom to arrive. It arrives as a surprise, confounding expectation: people will be surprised to be part of it; others, surprised not to be. The image of the arrogant servant stands to warn the community against exploitative leaders.