Today’s Gospel that we just heard proclaimed speaks of a reality that many of would rather prefer to ignore and wishfully hope will not happen. However, as a blind man cannot deny that there is colour and light in the world, more so as believers we cannot wish away the “Last Judgment” of God that we each have to face. The Gospel tells us that in the “Last Judgment,” God will judge all peoples and separate them like a shepherd, into sheep and pronounce those of us who are saved because of our Christ-like living or banished as “goats” because of our self-centred living that ignores God in our lives.
So, in today’s Gospel, when Jesus speaks of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked and the sick He is expressing His deep compassion that reaches out to the last, the lost and the least of the world with whom He wants us to feed, quench, befriend, cloth and care. And so Jesus asserts, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.”
Mother Teresa explains this truth of the Gospel profoundly when she says, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat . . . I was naked and you clothed me . . . I was homeless and you took me in.’ This hunger is not only for bread – but a hunger for love; the nakedness is not only for clothing – but the nakedness of the absence of human dignity and respect; and this homelessness is not only for want of a room made of bricks – but a homelessness because of rejection and oppression of the world. This is Christ in distressing disguise.” Are we neglecting them? If so, Jesus says, “Yes, you are also neglecting me.”
Today is the Feast of Christ the King. The Kingship that Christ proclaims is not one of power that dominates and oppresses, that we find in the secular world, but one that serves as a Servant of all servants, even though His is King of all kings. Jesus is our King and Saviour with divine power, but who also kisses and washes the feet of His apostles; a task that is done only the lowest of all slaves. And in doing so, Jesus in John 13:15 tells us, “As I have done, so must you do.”
This means that if we want Christ to be our King, and call ourselves Christians, then like Christ, we are called to serve selflessly and humbly like Him in our daily living. Thus, we cannot say that we love God fully without loving people who are so deprived of love, empty of meaning and hopeless in their daily existence? As a Christian, it is not enough to “believe” that Christ is present in others, especially the poor, the marginalised and oppressed of society. We are called to bring Christ and be Christ to others.
We may ask, “Why is my treatment of others so important to God? Why is God so supremely interested in what I do to other people? The answer is very simple: because every person is a child of God, a brother or sister of Christ for whom He shed His blood and died on the Cross for.
One of the main problems in our faith is the tendency to separate and compartmentalise our faith in God with our daily living; like the celebration of the Eucharist. We all believe that Jesus is present in the Holy Communion that we receive, but unfortunately we often do not bring the Jesus that we have received into the relationships and all that we experience daily. The celebration of our Eucharist that is filled with meaning and mystery is often not integrated into the meaning and mystery of our human trials, temptations and traumas of life. The Gospel that challenges and renews our hopes through the Wisdom of Jesus’ teachings and life should become our inspirations of forgiveness and love to people who hurt us.
The secret of living the Truth that Christ is truly the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords in our lives is to learn to see and sense His presence in our daily living. There is a poem that helps us appreciate how Jesus can be more fully the King and centre of our lives that I would like us to reflect on.
If Jesus come to your house to spend a day or two,
If He came unexpectedly, I wonder what you’d do.
Oh, I know you’d give your nicest room to such an Honoured Guest;
And all the food you’d serve Him would be the very best.
And you would keep assuring Him you’re glad to have Him there,
That serving Him within your home is joy beyond compare.
But, when you saw Him coming would you meet Him at the door
with arms outstretched in welcome to your Heavenly Visitor?
Or would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some current magazines and put the Bible where they’d
Would you turn off the TV set and hope He hadn’t heard?
And wish you hadn’t uttered that last, loud, hasty word?
Would you hide your worldy music and put some hymn books out?
Could Jesus walk right in – or would you have to rush about?
And so, I wonder - if the Saviour spent a day or two with you,
Would you continue doing the things you always do?
Would you go right on repeating the things you say?
Would life for you continue as it does for day to day?
Would your family conversation keep up its usual pace?
And at the dinner table would you say a word of grace?
Would you sing the sons you always sing and read the books you read?
And let Him know that things on which your mind and spirit feed?
And would you take Him with you everywhere you planned to go?
Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends?
Or would you hope they’d stay away until His visit ends?
Or would you be glad to have Him stay forever – on and on?
Or would you sigh with relief when He at last was gone?
Yes, it might be interesting to know the things your’d do,
If Jesus came in person to spend some time with you.
So, brothers and sisters, the criteria that Jesus proclaims by which His disciples and followers are to be judged on the “Last Day are: our obedience of our faith, the mercy we have shown, our readiness to forgive, the perseverance of our faith and the love of God shown in our daily lives. All these begin with those in our homes and relatives and neighbour. And then beyond to others even though we may not know them personally – what matters is they are each “my brother and sister” in the Lord. Then, the Lord, the Christ will be and become more fully the King of all “kings” and the centre of all that happens in our lives.
Fr Philip Heng,S.J.
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