THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE
Ezekiel 14:11-12.15-17; I Corinthians 15:20-26.28; Matthew 25:31-46)
The elections are over. The United States has chosen its president. The people will have José Biden as their head of government for the next four years. President Biden will not reign over the people with absolute authority. His power will be limited by the constitution of the republic and its laws. He is not a king.
Now we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. By naming Christ our king we are submitting to his absolute authority in all things. We are saying to him: "We will do whatever you ask because we are your subjects." We are confident that he will not exploit his power because he has proven himself as a shepherd king as in the first reading. He will supply all of our needs and heal our wounds.
Jesus, our King, has expressed his will for us in the Gospels of the last two Sundays. Two weeks ago he taught us how to be proactive as we await his return. We are to shine our lamps before people with good works. Then last Sunday he warned us not to shirk from employing our talents. We are to use our time, treasure, and abilities for the sake of his kingdom.
In the Gospel today Jesus has words of comfort for us, his missionary disciples. He addresses the nations; that is, those peoples that still do not accept him as their king. He tells them that they will be judged worthy of his kingdom as long as they help us, his brothers and sisters. If they give with a glass of water when we are thirsty or visit us when we are imprisoned for proclaiming Christ, they will be accepted into his kingdom. There are many stories of non-Christians helping Christians. Fifty years ago it was common to hear how Jews would do the work of Christians at Christmas so that they could attend Mass or enjoy Christmas dinner with their families. Today there are stories of Muslims saving the lives of Christians from extremists. Last year, a Muslim driver is reported to have saved the lives of a group of Christians. He had them in his car when a gang of armed extremists signaled him to stop. The driver quickly passed them causing them to shoot at his car. Fortunately all escaped safely.
We help non-Christians, and they help us. So what is the difference between us and them? It has to do with the type of help that is given. Our help should not be limited to the corporal works. Rather, they should include spiritual works as much as possible. Besides visiting the sick and feeding the hungry, we must instruct those who do not know how to respect others and forgive injuries. A French bishop in Algeria built libraries and educational centers for the disabled. These institutions were used mostly by Muslims. Eventually the prelate, Bishop Pierre Claverié, was assassinated by the extremists. However, he left a legacy of love and respect among Muslims. At his funeral the Muslims called him their bishop.
This is the last time we are going to listen to regular readings from the Gospel according to Matthew for a long while. Hopefully this past year's readings have left us with a better sense of what a missionary disciple is. It is learning from Jesus to be innocent as doves and merciful as mothers of families. It is to befriend others and to share with them the kingdom. It is having Jesus as a brother and not worrying about how we will endure. For he is with us as certain as a shepherd takes his sheep to pasture. Jesus is with us until the end of time.