Year A: 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feast of Christ, Universal King
Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46
The Church’s liturgical year draws to its close today - and celebrates the feast of “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Universal King”. The feast celebrates the fact that, though earthly rulers come and go - and, even at the height of their power, rule over only a very small part of the created universe - Jesus’ reign is eternal and cosmic in its proportions.
It is a reign that is founded on the principles of justice and integrity - where those who live according to the values of the Kingdom will feel at home - and those who do not will find it an alien place.
The Son of Man is well aware of the differences between people - and also knows that how they have lived their lives shows more clearly the kind of person they are than anything they might say.
So, His criteria for separating people are based on what they did during the course of their lives.
Those who quietly got on with Kingdom living - feeding those who were hungry, clothing those who were naked - visiting those who were sick or in prison - these people were taken to one side and told that, in fact, they had been doing those things to Jesus Himself. This came as news to them!
Equally, those who had not done those things were told that when they had refused to do those things, they had been neglecting to do it to Him. This came as a surprise to them too!
The fact Jesus was pointing out to them was a fundamental rule of Kingdom living. We are the Body of Christ - and so, deeply united in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. What we do - one for another - heals and builds up the Body of Christ. What we do not do - one for another - weakens and diminishes it.
Jesus is a king who does not lord it over His people but invites them into the fullness of life that is His Life. Those who already live with that sense of mutual dependence will find this natural and delightful. Others, who see themselves as entirely laws unto themselves, would find this intolerable.
The choice is ours - Christ accepts it - to be Kingdom people - or to prefer to live outside it...
What does it mean for me?
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