CHRIST, THE KING WHO CARES FOR HIS OWN
(1st: Ezek 34, 11-17; Ps. 22, 1-6; 2nd: I Cor 15, 20-28; Gos: Mtt 25, 31-46)
Christ’s lordship over the universe is commemorated in various ways in feasts of the liturgical year, including the Epiphany, Easter, and the Ascension. With the Solemnity of Christ the King, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in the context of the growing heresy of laicism, secularism and atheism of the world, the Church wishes to highlight even more clearly Christ’s sovereignty over all creation, including human history. The feast is intended to proclaim in a resounding, striking and effective way Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. The Holy Mother Church and all her faithful celebrate today the King of the universe who rules in power and majesty, the King who is compassionate and love, and the king who does not rule with iron fist but delivers justice on a platter of gold. A king whose kingship is different from all that we see around us today.
Jesus’ reign, as the liturgy of the Mass underlines, is a reign of truth, life, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace: these are the values that the human heart most longs for, and we Christians can contribute to bringing them about. We can do so especially through works of mercy done for the most needy around us, as the gospel tells us. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome.
In the first reading, Ezekiel tells us something about the kingship of our God. Looking back over the disasters that have struck his people, Ezekiel compares Israel to a flock of sheep scattered and without a shepherd and proclaims a message of salvation that God is about to intervene ; as a shepherd, He will gather them from where they are scattered and succor the weak.
In today’s gospel, Matthew reminds us of the rule and reign of Christ. His reign is one of justice because he will judge each one according to his or her action. He shall uphold the just and reprimand the culprit. There is no corruption, embezzlement, manipulation, or structural injustices in his kingdom or during his reign. The Gospel is a revolutionary manifesto because Jesus is telling us that the only effective and lasting power in the world is that of unselfish love. The message is revolutionary because it proposes that quiet, gentle and persistent love, which seeks only the good of others, can possibly be more powerful than all money and missiles and bombs on which we rely for security.
The question that we should ask ourselves today is: Is Christ the king of my life? If yes, how do I stand vis-à-vis the manifesto of his kingdom? How do I feel about my obligation to the least in our society? What am I doing to help meet the needs of the hungry and thirsty, the foreigner, those who are ill or who are in prison? Or am I among those who out of their selfish interests frustrate all attempts to ensure that the needs of these people are met?
There are a number of things to note in the today’s Gospel reading:
- none of the things Jesus mentions are religious in nature
- there is no mention whatever of any commandments being observed or violated
- people are condemned not for doing actions which were morally wrong but for not doing anything at all
- the actions are done (or not done) TO Jesus and not just FOR Jesus. In other words, Jesus is truly present in every person we meet.
To sum it up, Jesus is saying that, if you wish to be counted among the sheep, then you must be an actively loving person, irrespective of the response you get. The picture of the Judgment in the Gospel is not meant to fill us with fear and trembling. No, it is a challenge not about the future but about today. The surest way to guarantee that you will be numbered among the sheep is for you to become right now a loving, caring, tolerant and accepting person.
My dear brothers and sisters, today’s celebration will only make meaning to us if only we have given Christ the highest seat and key to the kingdom of our hearts where he earnestly desires to reign. If he reigns in every heart, then he reigns in our world. If he reigns there already, then rejoice and celebrate, if not, let us ask him today, to come in because he says to us: “I stand at the door waiting, if you open I will come in to eat and dine with him” (Rev 3, 20). If he reigns in you, then yours are all gains and no losses.
We are challenged today to forget our own needs for love and happiness and to reach out in love to make someone happy who may be in greater need. The more we do this, the more Christian we will become and the louder, more attractive and more believable will be our proclamation that Jesus indeed is our king.
Wish you a happy feast day
Peace be with you
Fr Dumlesi Tor