A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE – 2014
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
I think we all have certain images that come to mind whenever we think of a king, or a queen, or even royalty in general. Maybe we think of great wealth, and old families, and castles. Maybe it’s more like crowns, and robes, and thrones. Maybe we think of King Henry VIII in that old movie where we grabs that giant turkey leg and rips into it with his teeth, getting turkey leg all over his beard. There are so many popular images of kings. Of course, as Americans, we don’t have kings and queens or royal families. We just have Kennedy’s, and Bushes, and Clintons. And we know they are not the same.
As we come to Mass today on this Feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or what we used to know better as Christ the King, we also recognize that Jesus isn’t your typical king either. What kind of King hides in the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, or in prisoners? Well, apparently Jesus does! For our last Gospel of this liturgical year, we get St. Matthew’s chapter 25 on the last judgment. Jesus tells us that a great separation is coming between the sheep and the goats. Once again, as we have heard so many times in these past few weeks in so many of St. Matthew’s parables, an accounting of our lives is going to be demanded, a reckoning. We are reminded that someday all of us are going to be held accountable for the way that we lived our lives and what we did. Matthew 25 describes the last judgment as a separation of the good from the bad, based upon our recognition of Jesus hiding in our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus is making a powerful connection between how we treat Him, by the way that we treat the poor and those in need.
This same connection is made in the Acts of the Apostles with the conversion of St. Paul. When Saul is knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus, the voice from Heaven that claims to be Jesus Christ, tells Saul that he is persecuting Jesus Himself by persecuting the Church. Saul was not persecuting Jesus Christ. He assumed Jesus to be dead at that time. He was however aggressively persecuting His Church. Jesus sees no difference between the way that Saul is treating the Church, and the way that he is treating Him. For Christ then, there is no separation between the way that we treat our brothers and sisters and the way that we treat God. We can’t make any mistake about this. We say that we want to love God, then we absolutely must love our brothers and sisters, because in God’s eyes, they are the same thing! The final judgment that is coming for all of us, will not allow this distinction either. If we say that we love God, then we have very well to be willing to love our brothers and sisters. And it is in the least of our brothers and sisters, where God just loves to hide, daring us to find Him and love Him!
What kind of King does this? Kings are not typically found in the least of our brothers and sisters!
Clearly, we have a different kind of King in Jesus. He is a King Who desperately loves all of His people!
And Who wants all of us to love one another! Who are the least of our brothers and sisters? The better question is who are NOT the least of brothers and sisters? Everyone is included. Everyone is poor. Everyone is hungry. Everyone is naked. Everyone is in prison. We are to love and care for everyone, not just people who wear crowns and live in castles. And why should we love everyone? It is because God loves everyone. We are to be like our King, imitating His love and generosity.
And that, my brothers and sisters, is exactly what we are going to be judged on, when everything is said and done. Judgment Day is going to be very surprising for all of us. I think that we will be amazed at how many times Jesus came to us hiding in other people, and how very many times we had no idea that it was Him! And we helped Him anyway. And likewise, it is also more than a little sobering to think of all the times that Christ came to us hiding in others, and we DIDN’T recognize, and we DIDN’T do anything to help Him out. There are going to be many surprised people on judgment day. Jesus has so many disguises! The way, of course, to NOT be surprised, is to do our best every day to recognize our King hiding in so many of people. Sometimes Jesus looks very different than what we might think He does. The better we get at recognizing Him now, the less surprised we’re going to be later on. May God help us to always be prepared!
+ God bless us as we end this liturgical year, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!