Fr Vincent's reflections on Christ the King Sunday
In the parable of the Final Judgment where Christ will separate the sheep from the goats, which do I plan to be, a goat or a sheep? None of us should take our answer for granted. Now is the time to bring Christ’s kingship more deeply into my daily life.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on Christ the King Sunday
Read the text:
Christ the King 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of the universe,
grant, we pray,
that the whole creation, set free from slavery,
may render your majesty service
and ceaselessly proclaim your praise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As always, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Matthew 25:31-46.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
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 Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The final Sunday of the Church’s Liturgical Year, and the Final Judgment. We have heard the parable of the separation of goats and the sheep many times over. Are you worried about which side will be yours? Whether you answer that question, “yes” or no,” I like to say: “if you are not worried, you should be, and if you are worried, you should not be!”
Do you notice that both the righteous and the wicked are surprised by the judgment they receive? Those who are often worrying over whether they are doing enough good, can be doing more than they imagine. And those who think they are good enough, can often be missing the chances to do more than they imagine necessary. So, you and I might fall into either category – worrier or self-satisfied – and both could be inaccurate.
We are challenged by the Scriptures and prayers of today’s Mass to proclaim with words and actions our obedience to Christ Jesus, our Savior and King. It is easy to toss out a lot of words, truthful in themselves – I believe, I pray, I am kind – and even follow them up with heart-felt actions, at times, but the words and actions might not encompass the whole of our lives. This is what we are invited to contemplate today. How deeply does the Kingship of Christ affect my life?
As human society and technology advance, we are becoming less and less intimately connected to others. I chat with family and friends regularly by telephone and sometimes even FaceTime but rarely visit in person. And while I blame covid for this now, honestly, this “pattern of life” was developing before covid hit. I make regular donations to a variety of charities as well as my contributions to the Church. But I can use that as an excuse not to reach out personally to help. I claim busyness as an excuse, but could that merely be a convenient excuse because I don’t want to be bothered changing my lifestyle? I describe this as “arms’ length” Christianity; doing good without investing my real self!
This time of year brings back to mind an experience I had years ago. Helping with a food kitchen around Thanksgiving, one of the gentlemen there to eat challenged me in a soul-wrenching way. As I brought his plate of food to where he was seated, he asked me: “Do I look like a snake to you?” What a bizarre question! Of course, I replied, “No! Why would you ask that?” He answered: “Snakes gorge on a meal like this, and then don’t eat for weeks. I’ll be hungry tomorrow, and where will you be?” I was dumbfounded, and walked away in silence. Honestly, my first reaction was self-righteous anger as I thought, “how ungrateful!” But, then it started to sink in; I was there to make myself feel good by reaching out, but I would be back in my comfortable world soon enough and forget about his hunger. Jesus had just made me a goat!
No, I could not drop everything and start serving in a food kitchen seven days a week, but it convinced me to make monthly donations to care for the underprivileged and forgotten members of society. I know there will always be more I could be doing and avoid the self-righteousness that I used to feel.
On the other hand, I am not saying this to place any of us on a “guilt trip” as if we are all totally self-absorbed snobs who care nothing about others. We are invited to recognize the good we do as being “Christ for others” and seeing Jesus in those who need our help. Jesus wants to love his people through us; he wants to strengthen us so that we persevere in doing the good deeds we do perform. Truly, a kind word or a kind action can go a long way to helping others who feel forgotten. Though I am far from perfect at this, I try regularly to thank store workers who are stocking, or cleaning, or simply doing their jobs because they do make my life better. I try to reach out to strangers if I see them struggling with some activity so they don’t feel alone an unnoticed.
The more we make ourselves conscious of the people around us as “Jesus in disguise,” the more we can become aware of all the ways we can and do serve the Lord. It is not merely to make ourselves feel good, but actively to thank God for all He has done for us. And this goodness will work itself deep into our heart and soul so that the Kingship of Christ will not be words we pray one Sunday a year, but a daily, living attitude that keeps us in touch with family, friends, and strangers alike, regardless of covid, because they are Jesus to us and we are Jesus to them. Then, we will no longer be goats but the sheep of his flock whom he calls into his kingdom.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.