Homily for the feast of Christ the King

Year A  -  Mt. 25:31-46


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus said:  «When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of 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, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

"«Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, 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, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'

"«And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.»"



Homily :


"«When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations.»"

When Jesus Christ, Our Lord, will return to earth at the end of time, he will allow himself to be seen by all the men and women who have ever lived in the world since its creation.  All will see him, and he will see the entire world:  "Before him will be gathered all the nations."  The kingdom of God has already begun on earth:  this Kingdom is the Church of God.  But the Kingdom is not yet entirely visible:  we cannot yet clearly perceive what it really is.  We must wait until the supreme moment of the Parousia, when the Kingdom, whom we are, will truly appear: "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 Jn. 3:2)

"«He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'»"

"The King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.' "  Are we conscious of the grandeur of our destiny?  Do we often think about what we are in the eyes of God?  "Sinners," you may say, "we are but lowly sinners."  You may also say what Saint Bernadette Soubirous, to whom the Virgin Mary appeared in Lourdes, said in her final moments : "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a sinner, now."  But what does Jesus say?  "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Now, at the creation of the world, there was no sin, for God is not the author of sin.  So, even though we have sinned during our life, if we then sincerely ask for forgiveness from God and his Church, then Christ, when he will appear in the glory of his Father, will not want to see in us anything but the fact that we are sons of the Father, blessed by the Father since the creation of the world!  At that moment, the Church, who is the Kingdom of God, will be adorned with magnificent splendor, ready for Christ to present her to himself "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, ... holy and without blemish." (Ep. 5:27).

"«I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'»"

The elect of God, those who will be placed at the right hand of the King, will be surprised to learn that, during their life, they had given to Christ in person all the help that they had given to the unfortunate and the poor of their time.  Why this surprise?  Why this astonishment?  The answer is simple.  Our neighbor, the man or woman we meet on our journey, on the path traced out for us by Providence, is someone we must love fully for what he or she really is: we must form one body with our neighbor, for the Church, which we are, is the Body of Christ.  In order to truly love our neighbor, we must see him as the person he is, and not as someone else.  Our love for our neighbor does not, therefore, make us see and discover Christ in him. But then Christ reveals to us his presence in our neighbor, for he alone - Christ - knows his own Body.  This revelation is accomplished in faith by Christ during our life on earth, and he will accomplish it in a perfect vision at the end of time.

"«Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, 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, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'»"

Jesus, the King of the Universe, at first will not reproach mankind for having done wrong: the Lord does not mention here any of the sins that he enumerates elsewhere in Scripture.  The only reproach he makes concerns one thing: sins of omission!  "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."  We can do many things during our life; but if we fail to do precisely those which we must absolutely do, then we sin by omission, and Jesus will reproach us for it at the Last Judgment.

Every age has had its needs:  schools, universities, hospitals, the elimination of rural illiteracy, the care of the poor and the sick, notably the care of lepers, etc.... Very often, it was religious or priests who established the means through which these needs would be met.  These priests and religious will have no reason to fear hearing the Lord reproach them for sinning by omission in this regard:  all of them did their duty, corresponding to the needs of their time.

And today?  What is it that we must do in order not to sin by omission?  What is the great need of our time?  Look no further.  The answer is: faith!  Our world needs our witness of faith:  each of us must give, to whomever wishes to hear it, a message of faith, a word that comes from the heart and which bears witness to the fact that Jesus is Lord and King of the Universe!  Our world needs to hear a message of faith, a faith which brings hope and love.  For us today, omission would be to fail to witness our faith to the poor, to those who hunger for hope and peace, to those who desperately await this message, this word, which God has entrusted to us.

This Sunday is the last of the liturgical year.  Next Sunday, we will begin the first liturgical year of the new millennium:  may Mary, the Mother of Christ and of the Church, help us and make us true apostles of the faith for the world of the year 2000!