Offers food for thought
Feast of Christ the King
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalms 23:1-2, 2-3, 5, 6; First Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46
How we have exercised the power that has been given to us will be judged by God. When we say every exercise of power, we include all familial and social relationships. We all know and believe this is true and we affirm the truth every week when we proclaim our faith together in the creed.
We must be biased, just as God is biased. God is biased in favor of those who are exploited, who live on the margins. Remember the parable of the rich man clothed in purple and feasting every day. He was without compassion on the poor man who longed to have even the crumbs that fell from the table. He may have loved God in his observance of religious law, but did nothing for his neighbor. The justice of God requires an equitable sharing of and access to the available and necessary resources due to every human person in light of having been created in the image and likeness of God. Those who do little or nothing for the poor, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner, the foreigner, the widow or the orphan are selfish tyrants with their wealth, power and authority.
If we have accepted that Jesus Christ is both our Lord and our Savior, then we have agreed to live according to the dictates of faith. We have agreed to submit ourselves to Christ the King and to live in imitation of him, to ensure that our will becomes aligned to the will of God. We are called to embody the words of St. Paul who said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”. As such, our faith will bear good fruit in the form of actions which are expressions of and manifest our love for both God and neighbor.
If we are sheep in the Good Shepherds flock; if we are subjects of the Good King; then we must be actively loving people no matter what response we get to our actions of love. It is not enough just to fulfil obligations, religious or otherwise.
At the final judgement there will be two kinds of people, described in today’s Gospel as ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’. When Jesus addresses the first group of people, he says: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father..." But when he addresses the second group, he says: "Depart from me, you accursed." The second group purposely and freely chose to live their earthly lives for themselves. They didn't enter into a friendship with God, because they didn't want the lifestyle of love and self-giving that goes with it. They rejected God's many invitations - the voice of conscience, the teachings of the Church, the example of believers, the lives of the saints, the beauty of creation. They freely chose to live separated from God, they chose Hell.
Hell is not God’s creation and God does not ‘send’ anyone to Hell. Hell is the eternal future without God that we freely design and choose by our beliefs and actions in this life which exclude or eliminate God. God respects your freedom to choose, life in union with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and all creation or death.
St Theodosius had learned well the lesson of today's parable - Christ wants us to know what's going to happen after death, so that we can make the right choices throughout our life. St Theodosius was a monk who lived in Palestine in the 6th century, started a monastery. One of the first things he did was to dig a large grave, right in the middle of the cloister. When asked what the point of that was, he simply said that "Here you see a grave. Here we will all one day be buried and our bodies will return to the dust from which they were made. Remember this, my sons, so that you never stray from the Lord's sure but narrow road of prayer and self-denial. It is better to die to ourselves each day and rise again on the Day of Judgment than indulge ourselves foolishly now and remain in the grave forever."
So, the image of the Judgement in the Gospel should make us somewhat nervous, and it should challenge us to never cease to go beyond being ‘good enough’.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.