Saturday, November 19, 2011

Solemnity of Christ the King 2011 year A:

Brief introduction: Pius XI instituted this feast of Christ the King in 1925. He started this feast as a way to address the problem of secularism in the world, a problem which has only gotten worse since 1925. Today we proclaim that Christ is truly king. This is not simply a matter of private belief, rather Christ is king of all nations and all times, all peoples, believers and unbelievers alike. What do we do to extend the reign of Christ? Do we bring Christ into the social sphere? If we accept Christ as our Lord and King, it must have an impact on the way we live our lives. So how do we accept Christ as King? Our Gospel passage helps us.

Here is Christ seated on his throne in his glory to bring his judgment upon the earth. If you can hear this passage without getting the slightest bit worried, great! Let me know after Mass because I want to start following you around and becoming like you! If you are like me you hear this passage and think of the many times I may have walked past someone in need. The many times I have omitted the good I knew I should have done. And, even more scary, the passage makes it seem as though the accursed are in trouble for things that they were not even aware they were not doing. How terrifying! We might be messing up, neglecting Christ and we don't even know it. Perhaps it is just proof that I must be a sort of glass half empty kind of person, but when I read this passage I get scared.

However, I want to call your attention to a unique structure of this reading. We notice that the sheep are called blessed, while the goats are called accursed. When I was reading this passage I knew that that sounded familiar. Where had I heard of blessing and cursing? So I went through my Bible and found this interesting passage from Deuteronomy 27 where God outlines a bunch of blessings and curses for those who follow the covenant. So what we have here in this judgment scene is an explanation of the covenant: all those who enter into the covenant of Christ will be blessed, those who do not will be cursed. Because it is a covenant, we must always remember that it is God who initiates the covenant. Everything we do is a response to his love. One thing this passage never mentions is why we should love Christ in others: because Christ has first loved us.

So this scene is a scene of covenant, and covenant is a free response to the love of Christ. However, look at how amazing this covenant is, it is open to everyone. We remember that in the Old Testament God makes a covenant with his people Israel, but in Christ this covenant is a covenant with the whole human race, there is no person who is excluded. Every single person on earth has a chance to enter into this covenant, even if they do not know Christ, or have never heard of him: When did we minister to your needs? They didn't know they were following the covenant of Christ, but all those who love their neighbor are living in response to the covenant.

Christ is the King, but he does not come as the tyrant. Christ will judge, but he is not looking to condemn. Christ is the king, but he comes as a shepherd to lay his life down for his sheep. If we contemplate Christ as King and his great love for us, the only response is love. This passage of judgment might frighten us, but I think if we take Christ as our King, if we reflect on the love with which he loves us, rather than frighten us, this passage will inspire us to be found among the sheep where we will hear: come blessed of my Father. This message is a beautiful one, one that we should share with the whole world. Christ is the king of the whole world, not just the king of Christians. If we accept Christ, we should want to share him with the world.

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