GOSPEL REFLECTION: Solemnity of Christ the King (A)
23rd November 2014
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
"Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that 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 something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the King will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.'
"Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me 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 nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
"Then they also answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Story: A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20. bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20. bill? Hands started going up.
He said, "I am going to give this $20. to one of you but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well, " he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. "Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air. And he said to them, "My friends , you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money you still wanted it. Why? Because it did not decrease in value! It was still worth $20. Likewise, Many times in our lives , we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value - you are special - you are a CHILD OF GOD.
Yes, this is our identity and our worth - that we are children of God. A God who is King. In the "Lord's Prayer," we say "Thy Kingdom come!" And as children of God, He welcomes us to enter His Kingdom. "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world..." A Kingdom that is not in a palace or royalty but it is in the human heart.
Today, we celebrate Christ the King.Why do we celebrate a feast that is inviting us to reflect on the image of Jesus as King? It is not easy for us to picture Jesus as King. During Jesus' trial,Pilate asked Jesus "Are you a King?" To which Jesus replied, "I am a King, and I came into the world to bear witness to the truth." The notion of Jesus as King is not that easy to reconcile with the kind of royalty we have in mind.For a start, Jesus was born in a stable. He was the son of a carpenter.Unlike, Caesar, Jesus did not have soldiers who were armed to protect him...no golden crown, no exquisite clothing, no palace, no throne or servants to wait on him. If ever his throne was the cross, his crown was thorns , his scepter was the lance that pierced his side.Christ Kingship therefore is far different from our secular understanding of royalty. In his trial he made it clear, "My Kingdom does not belong to this world- If my Kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my Kingdom is not here." (John 18:36) What is this Kingdom that Jesus was talking about? How then do we look at the Kingship of Jesus? Jesus' Kingship is sustained by a power that does not manipulate others but a power of love. Christ did not come to establish a political sovereignty. We have here a King who is not hungry for worldly power and fame but a King who loves the poor and the marginalized. A King who cares for the weak and the downtrodden.A king who did not come to be served but to serve. Christ Kingship is not of this world, for He is a King who rules not from a royal throne in glory but from service of the cross. It is a Kingdom of truth, justice, peace, service , compassion and love.
Yes, Jesus is our King and our challenge is for us to imitate in our lives the way our King lived. Like Jesus our King, we are called to serve not to be served. To love as Jesus loved. To be compassionate especially to the poor, the oppressed , and the marginalized. And to give ourselves totally to the Father by loving our neighbor as ourselves.In the Gospel, Jesus said "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me...For truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me." William Barclay puts it beautifully, "Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice. And we do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face His task and to take up His Cross."
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, there is a sense of gratitude in my heart. For I feel loved despite my weaknesses and shortcomings. I came to know my worth , I am a child of God. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God's love encompasses us completely...He loves everyone of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful or broken."
Let Christ reign in our hearts by being faithful to His will. Let us make his love known by our example and deeds. Let us help build his Kingdom here on earth knowing fully that Christ Kingship has at its heart, not power and wealth but compassion, service, selflessness and love. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat! (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!)