Thursday, November 20, 2014

Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe Year A

Readings: Ez 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28; Mat 25:31-46

Jesus Christ is the King of the universe. When Christ is King He welcomes and rewards those who show compassion to the less fortunate; when Christ is King He rejects and punishes those who show no concern or do nothing for the least of his brothers and sisters. On this last Sunday of the year, as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, the theme of preparedness reaches a climax. The final judgement takes place on the basis of our compassion and care for others or the lack of it. The prophet Ezekiel in the First Reading uses the image of a shepherd to underline how much God loves and cares for his people with compassion and tenderness.  Thus God assumes the role of shepherd for his sheep, finding the lost, gathering the scattered, healing the wounded and caring for all. God as Shepherd is also presented as Judge between one sheep and another, between rams and he-goats”, – a reference to separating the good from the bad. In the second reading, Paul portrays Jesus Christ as a powerful and awesome Lord and King. Yet we know that Jesus is the “King of Hearts” not the “King of Clubs”. “In him shall all be brought to life.” Christ is presented as ruler to whom all power and authority must eventually give way; the one who eventually subdues his enemies. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Christ gives life, life in all its fullness. Christ’s purpose is to share that life with every single person. “For Just as in Adam all die, so too all in Christ all shall be brought to life”, having subjected all evil forces. The last enemy to be subjected is death.

The Gospel passage from Matthew 25 explains how our entire salvation in the end hinges on caring or not caring for the less fortunate. We are told how when Jesus Christ is King will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  The sheep will be placed at His right and the goats at His left, which indicates the separation of the good and from the bad.   That separation is done in a way that surprises all. They discover how they did or did not recognize Jesus in their brothers and sisters. They have a greater surprise when Jesus invites them into the kingdom or rejects them right at the door, for just as you did or did not do it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did or did not do it to me.  The truth is that Jesus identifies with every person created in God’s image and likeness. We note that none of the things Jesus mentions are religious in nature; there is no direct mention of any commandments observed or violated; people are condemned not for doing anything that is morally wrong but for inaction; for failure to show compassion. Whatever we do centres round Jesus because He is truly present in every person we meet. Today’s Gospel therefore echoes the eternal divine love and justice of Jesus Christ our King, who shows his compassion to those who have shown God’s mercy and compassion to their brothers and sisters. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Jesus in the Gospel teaches us his disciples and stewards to be vigilant and prepared during the period of uncertain delay before his second coming. 2) In response to that message we are challenged to show compassion and care to Christ’s less fortunate. That is the criterion by which we will be judged at the end. 3) To put this message into practice concretely, this coming season of Advent, one might visit the sick, the elderly, prisoners or volunteer to for one of the parish outreach ministries. There at IHS or at the Waianae beach you will indeed meet Jesus Christ the King among the poor and homeless!

©2014 John S. Mbinda

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