Matthew Chapter 25

The ten bridesmaids

1 This story throws light on what will happen in the king dom of heaven. Ten bridesmaids went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom.

2 Five of them were careless while the others were sensible.

3 The careless bridesmaids took their lamps as they were and did not bring extra oil.

4 But those who were sensible, brought with their lamps flasks of oil.

5 As the bridegroom delayed, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.

6 But at midnight, a cry rang out: ¡®The bridegroom is here, come out and meet him!¡¯

7 All the maidens woke up at once and trimmed their lamps.

8 Then the careless ones said to the sensible ones: ¡®Give us some oil, for our lamps are going out.¡¯

9 The sensible ones answered: ¡®There may not be enough for both you and us. You had better go to those who sell and buy for yourselves.¡¯

10 They were out buying oil when the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him to the wed ding feast, and the doors were shut.

11 Later the rest of the bridesmaids arrived and called out: ¡®Lord, Lord, open to us.¡¯

12 But he answered: ¡®Truly, I do not know you.¡¯

13 So, stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

The parable of the talents

14 Imagine someone who, before going abroad, summoned his servants to entrust his property to them.

15 He gave five talents of silver to one, then two to another, and one to a third, each one according to his ability; and he went away.

16 He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money and gained another five.

17 The one who received two did the same and gained another two.

18 But the one with one talent dug a hole and hid his master¡¯s money.

19 After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning.

20 The one who re ceived five talents came with another five talents, saying: ¡®Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see I have gained five more with them.¡¯  

21 The master answered: ¡®Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.¡¯

22 Then the one who had two talents came and said: ¡®Lord, you entrusted me with two ta l ents; I have two more which I gained with them.¡¯

23 The master said: ¡®Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.¡¯

24 Finally, the one who had re ceived one talent came and said: ¡®Master, I know that you are an exacting man. You reap what you have not sown and gather what you have not invested.

25 I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours.¡¯

26 But his master replied: ¡®Wicked and worthless servant, you know that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not invested.

27 Then you should have deposited my money in the bank, and you would have given it back to me with interest on my return.

28 Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten.

29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who are unproductive, even what they have will be taken from them.

30 As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.¡¯

The last judgment

31 ¡°When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his Glory.

32 All the nations will be brought before him, and as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,

33 so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 The King will say to those on his right: ¡®Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.

35 For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

36 I was a stranger and you wel comed me into your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to see me.¡¯

37 Then the good people will ask him: ¡®Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food; thirsty and give you drink,

38 or a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to see you?¡¯

40 The King will answer, ¡®Truly, I say to you: when ever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.¡¯

41 Then he will say to those on his left: ¡®Go, cursed peo ple, out of my sight into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels!

42 For I was hungry and you did not give me anything to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink;

43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked and you did not clothe me; I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me.¡¯

44 They, too, will ask: ¡®Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?¡¯

45 The King will answer them: ¡®Truly, I say to you: whatever you did not do for one of these little ones, you did not do for me.¡¯

46 And these will go into eternal punishment, but the just to eternal life.¡±


Comments Mathew, Chapter 25


The three parables that follow tell us how to await the return of Christ, being alert and active. The first, ¡°the ten bridesmaids¡± is the most beautiful parable on fidelity. The ten girls followed the custom of waiting through the night for the bridegroom who will be accompanied to his house. The bridegroom is late, something that should astonish no one. The bride is not mentioned: perhaps they will discover at the end that there was no other than themselves.

They fell asleep. Once the sun has set, all is dark and nothing more can be done (Jn 9:4). No further work except fidelity of heart (Dt 5:2): oil will be needed to keep the flame alive.

Here as in other places, the Gospel shows us that more than conversion and enthusiasm is needed: it is necessary to last (7-24). Being sure of having a reserve of oil is to take the means that enable us to persevere in our vocation.

Some will say that Matthew has placed this parable here for the benefit of the first Christians, for after having awaited the return of Christ, they saw that nothing happened. Error! Jesus speaks to the believers of all times. For them one day or another fidelity becomes burdensome: ¡°I did not know to what I was committing myself.¡± There lies the grandeur of fidelity. It cannot be known in advance; giving one¡¯s hand to God is a jump into the unknown. Only through this perseverance can we be saved (Mt 24:13), in other words, find ourselves.

The Lord demands faithfulness and perseverance from those he has chosen: this is how we save a world that seeks truth everywhere and does not know to which Lord to surrender.


During the time of Jesus, a talent was an amount, thirty kilograms of precious metal, but in this parable when Jesus spoke of talents he referred to the abilities given by God to each of us. Since then, peo ple came to understand the word ¡°talent¡± in this sense.

Good and faithful servant (v. 21). Faithful: it would be bet ter translated: ¡°reliable.¡± We do not find any word of religious vocabulary in this parable.

God sees the way one has used his talents, and the sin is to have kept for self what one has received. What condemnation of a society where it is usual to enjoy and consume what has been received: a better human formation and knowledge inherited from the homeland which should be transmitted to one¡¯s descendants, the blessings and benefits of a family where the parents knew how to sacrifice themselves for their children, and perhaps the Word of God to be carried out in order to realize God¡¯s great plan for the world.

I will entrust you with much more. What we achieve on earth is not definitive but only the scaffolding: quite other will be the riches that God will distribute to those who will live in him.

You know that I reap where I have not sown (v. 26). As in Luke 18:1, Jesus is aware of our unavowed defiance towards God and takes us at our word. If we do not aspire to the place that the husband reserves for a wife (25:1), let us try at least not to be useless servants.

There are many opportunities for us to take initiatives, but we often are afraid to put ourselves forward: ¡°I am not the most qualified.¡± What if those who are qualified have not budged? Then, take the talent from him and give it to someone else.


We know that Christians are a minority in the world. As we do now, the Jews wondered about the majority of nations in the world, who were not among the Chosen People and did not know about God or his promises. The Jews envisioned a huge mul titude, ready to ¡°devour them,¡± a rest less world where God should one day impose his Law. They used to call them: the nations.

Jesus goes beyond these narrow perspectives and shows us how he will judge everyone, making no distinctions based on origins when he comes as King of all nations. All those who, without knowing Christ, have shared in the common destiny of human kind, will be judged by him. In fact, he never abandoned them, but placed at their side ¡°those little ones who are his brothers and sis ters,¡± as his representatives.

See, Christ reveals the innumerable human deeds that have built what is best in our civilization, and people brought before him look with amazement at the God whom they loved or despised in the person of their neighbor. Although the majority of them never thought of the afterlife, the kingdom of God is presented to them with its only law: Love.

There is no neutral place. The fire means the torment of those who condemned them selves by closing and freezing their hearts so that they became incapable of love: now the splendor of God, who is love, burns and pains them.

Whenever you did this to these little ones who are my brothers and sisters (v. 40). Jesus speaks of look ing after our neighbor, be he friend or foe, not of serving the community, or a class, or a nation in general, because using these words, we often exclude a group of our brothers and sisters, who do not belong to our nation or to our class. On the other hand, one who really loves, acknowledges his sisters and brothers with out giving too much importance to any labels: it is the person who exists and lives for God.

And these will go into eternal punishment (v. 46). There is something that shocks us today in the division of the good and the wicked, and it seems to us to be an outdated view (see com. on Mt 13:36). In one sense it is true. Up to the recent times people were mainly ¡°of one idea.¡± It did not take long for youth to see what were the options in life, rarely did a person find more than one religion in the local milieu and she would choose either the ¡°right¡± road or the ¡°wrong¡± road. Some conversions for better or worse would follow (Ez 8), but humanity seemed to be divided between the good and the evil. Today it is quite different: the choices we make are extremely com plex and it takes time to discern clear ly. All of life or much of it today may be lived by a person who has with in the self a good and an evil being at the same time.

Let us understand then that Jesus spoke the language of the prophets, schema tizing options. In fact Jesus denounces, not heinous crimes but selfishness in daily life as is found in each of us, and he depicts, like a father to his children the end towards which we are heading. It is to be hoped that the great majority will not reject the truth; cer tain persons consciously choose their own ruin and unfortunately are capable of continuing in their choice to the bitter end.

To say that God is so good that he will save them at the last moment is to affirm something that Jesus never intended to say. It would mean that all that a person lived through was of slight importance and that our freedom was no more than a game.

What Jesus says about judging non-Christian people likewise applies to us. But we would be mistaken if we repeatedly presented this parable as expressing the totality of Christian duties. What the world needs above all is not bread and water and clothing, but the truth and the hope that God entrusted to his chosen people. Christians would be unfaithful to their mission if they confined themselves to merely talking about assistance, housing and the like and forgot what is really life for humankind ¨C first, the knowledge and love of their Lord. He will always be first and we need him to be so for us. He takes as done to himself all that we do for our sisters and brothers but does not want to be confused with them.

• 47. See commentary on Mark 14:43.

The kiss of Judas: this was the usual way a disciple greeted his master.

He drew his sword (v. 51). Peter, like other apostles who took part in resistance movements against Roman oppression, brought swords (Lk 22:49).

He who uses the sword. This sentence does not condemn soldiers and policemen in a world of violence, but Jesus asserts that weapons do not establish the kingdom of God, nor do they lead to life. Force leads to death (in one way or another) for those (and for the institutions) who use it, even where it is necessary.

• 57. We find two accusations against Jesus. The first: I am able to destroy (v. 61) is false in one sense, but it refers to the words Jesus had spoken about replacing the Temple of Jerusalem with another religion centered in his own person (Jn 2:19) and that was indeed subversive. Nothing was more sacred to the Jews than the Temple of Jerusalem, and to attack the Temple was, at the same time, to threaten the position of the priests whose power was based on the fact that they alone could perform sacrificial rites in the Temple. They also amass ed wealth from offerings and taxes that the people paid to the temple. In defending the holy things, they were also protecting their own interests.

For the second accusation, which is the most important, see commentary on Mark 14:53.

Jesus kept silent (v. 63). Not out of contempt for those men, who were the reli gious authorities, but because he saw it was useless to argue with them. He remained silent and felt confident, as do those who put their cause in the hands of God.

It is just as you say (v. 64). Perhaps this answer of Jesus should be translated: ¡°You are the one saying it,¡± which is to say that Jesus did not agree with the terms used by Caia phas. The expression ¡°Son of God¡± signified the kings and saviors of Israel, and Jesus is the Son of God in a very different sense. Jesus identifies himself with the prophecy of Daniel 7:13, announcing a Savior, a Son of Man, who comes directly from God from all eter nity.

• 69. This denial by Peter is most amazing. His friend John is well known in the house of the high priest and Peter was introduced as his friend (Jn 18:16). The young girl knows very well who John is and does not say any thing beyond an ironic word to Peter. Nobody is threatening him, least of all the men; instead they mock him for his provincial Galilean accent, the same as Jesus¡¯ accent! It was enough to make Peter lose his composure.

In placing this episode just after the witness of Jesus in the presence of the High Priest, the Gospel intends to contrast Peter¡¯s attitude with that of his Master.