Solemnity of Christ the King
The Gospel Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left,
‘Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
The Solemnity of Christ the King: Are We Part of the Problem or Are We the Solution?
We come to Church every weekend to find some relief from the troubles of our lives as well as those of the world. And even if we are keeping an eye on children, or distracted by those around us, we still have those precious moments of peace when we are with our Lord.
Today is a special celebration, the Solemnity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. You might think, “That’s nice, “but really what does this have to do with me?” The celebration of Christ the King ought to mean everything, because it means that there is a solution to the problems of the world. This important Feast calls us to be part of the solution. It also warns us that if we are not part of the solution to the world’s problems, we will become part of it’s problems.
Today’s celebration concludes the Church year by reflecting on the fundamental truths of Christianity. Those truths are that Jesus Christ came to restore spiritual life to mankind and form mankind into a Kingdom for God the Father. This is made explicit in today’s second reading from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. It concerns the resurrection of Jesus and how it has restored the life that was lost by mankind. All who belong to Christ will be handed over to God the Father at the end of time.
However, this Sunday is not just about salvation history of the past. The Solemnity of Christ the King is about us, right here, right now. If we do not have God in our lives, then our lives are futile, meaningless and dead. Without God we go through the motions secretly asking ourselves, “Why bother? Why bother with raising children? Why bother with caring for others? Why bother with being good? Why bother keeping my marriage together? Why bother with anything?” If we do not have God in our lives, we will easily overlook His Presence reaching out to us; those in our families, our community, our school, our work places, and our church. If we do not have God in our lives, we are part of the problem of the world.
The Presence of God protects us from going through the motions of life. The Presence of God gives us to ability to live each moment as an opportunity to grow closer to Him. The Presence of God within each of us leads us to be the solution to the world’s needs. Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. Santa’s float was the last one in the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade. The holidays are upon us. Without God, Thanksgiving was just a day for a big meal. Without God, Christmas will be nothing more than a celebration of materialism. Decorations will be taken out of their storage boxes and the proper sentiments will be mustered up, but without God, Christmas will merely be a day of empty sentiments. But with God in our lives, Christmas becomes an opportunity for us to draw into a deeper union with the Presence that gives value to all life.
St. Paul writes that those who belong to Christ will be formed into a kingdom that will be handed over to His Father. Every sovereignty, every authority and every power in the world will be destroyed. There will be no presidents nor prime ministers, not ayatollahs nor any form of prince. The only King who is eternal is Jesus Christ. The only kingdom that will remain is that of God the Father. And we are members of that Kingdom, or, are we?
That is the question put before us in the teaching on the sheep and the goats. Both sheep and goats were surprised to learn that the Son of Man appearing to them in His Glory, with majestic, bright lights, with angels all over the place, and with trumpets booming out like thunder, this same Son of Man, the Judge of the Living and the Dead, was present to them in the suffering of the world. The sheep did not need to be told what to do. They cared for others. They did what the deep presence of the Lord within them led them to do: they reached out to those who needed them. They cared for Christ in their families and in those around them. The goats could not be concerned with anyone but themselves. They ignored the plight of others and missed the Presence of God.
If we are serious about our Christianity, if we are committed to the Kingdom of God, then we will be living lives of sacrificial love, the love of Jesus Christ. Out of love for Christ, we will reach out to those around us in a Christ-like way. We will recognize the Presence of God in those who might not even recognize His Presence in themselves. But if we are wrapped up in selfishness, if our lives are about “taking care of number one,” then we will miss our opportunity to serve God in others.
We are either part of the solution, or we are part of the problem. The true members of the Kingdom live their Christianity in a way that restores the world to the Lord. Those who are wrapped up in themselves, not only miss the opportunity to care for others, but they live their lives in a way that adds to the plight of those who are in need.
Are we members of the Kingdom of not? Are we part of the solution or part of the problem? Acts of charity are not just nice things to do. They are not add-ons to our faith. Our charity to others is fundamental to our faith.
During the last twelve months we have followed the life of Jesus from the prophesies of last Advent, through his birth, mission, death and resurrection. We have prayed over the message of His life as well as His teachings. Now, at the conclusion to the year we beg Him to help us recognize Him in our world and to acknowledge His presence in others. We seek the mercy of His continual grace drawing us out of ourselves. We humbly seek to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Christ is our King. May we be true members of His Kingdom.