Thought for the week - Christ the King
Gospel reading Matthew 25:31-46
‘The sheep and the goats.’ It is a very familiar reading. As is often the case though with familiar stories, that very familiarity can bring us to make assumptions or to miss what the passage is really about.
The easy, but mistaken interpretation of the story bluntly put is that if we are kind and good to people we go to heaven, if we are not we go to the other place! In fact if asked, many people would describe a Christian as someone kind, merciful etc., without much if any reference to faith or obedience to God. This goes along with “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian “ but that is for another time!
The truth is that the story as we have it occurs only in Matthew’s gospel. Matthew was not writing for, or referring to ‘everyone.’ His reference ‘All the nations of the world’ does not really mean what we naturally assume it to mean. Matthew was writing for a particular Judeo-Christian community. The assumption in his writing is that his hearers will be practising Christians with a Jewish background. He is saying (big paraphrase!) you are all devout, practising your faith, but that isn’t enough!
Nowadays, we are all kept busy with what we do and what we plan to do. engrossed and involved with work and how we can preoccupy ourselves in the future. We get to that point where we miss the more important things in life—family, community and God. When the day of judgment comes, where will we go?
Today’s gospel presents to us what happens in the end time. Matthew’s description of the end time serves as a warning and reminder for all of the faithful, that those who are favored by God will inherit the kingdom while those who are not will have their eternal punishment.
Everyone will have a place and that depends on how you treat your brothers and sisters, neighbors or strangers. The Lord, through the Church, has been reaching out to us and reminding us on how can we inherit God’s kingdom and become children of the kingdom. Before God, we present ourselves and will be accountable with what we have become. Saint John of the Cross reminds us that “in the evening of our life, we will be examined in love,” are we prepared for the evening and meet our God?
We ask: “Lord, when did we see you?” Most people look and search for God inside their tiny and exclusive church, or in their private and personalized prayers. They see God as someone who is only found in a specific place and in their own experience. Or to some of us, God is just an abstraction or pure imagination as doubts and confusions block them in knowing and loving God. But when did we meet and see the Lord?
Jesus exhorted that in our encounters with people. We meet the Lord every time we meet and see our brothers and sisters, especially those who are in dire need. The least, those who are in the margins, and the poor who are helpless and powerless, they are God’s people and God is in them.
Have we seen God in our brothers and sisters? When someone is hungry or thirsty, did we bother sharing food and water to fill their hunger and quench their thirst? When he or she is naked and one has nothing, did we clothe that person? Or when one is sick or in prison, did we bother and care to visit and see that person who is suffering tremendously in pain and despair? When one is in need of our help, did we open our hearts and hands to be of assistance to the prisoners, the homeless, the helpless? For “whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers and sisters, you do unto me,” says the Lord Jesus.
The Kingship of Christ is to be over every aspect of our life. Not just ’going to church’, not just ‘being kind and good’, but every bit of our life.
Have I seen the Lord in my brothers and sisters?
Did I give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and the prisoner?
Can I truthfully say before the Lord that I see Him and did good to Him through my brothers and sisters?
Am I ready to inherit God’s kingdom?
(Prayer reaction thanks to ‘InterAksyon.com’)