The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King – Year A – November 26, 2023
Lectionary Readings: Ezek. 34:11-12.15-17; Ps. 22(23):1-3.5-6; 1 Cor. 15:20-26. 28; Matt. 25:31-46
Theme: Christ the King now and forever.
Years ago, I could not immediately answer when I was asked by a young campus crusader: Do you have Christ in your heart? Today’s readings will help us answer that question quite easily. For they show us that we need to have Christ not only in our heart but also in our head, in our hands and in our soul. We have to make Jesus Christ the be-all and end-all in our daily life. This means we have to follow Christ as our king now.
When Jesus was asked by Pontius Pilate if he was the King of the Jews, his answer was: “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (Jn 18:36).
Then Pope John Paul 11 in his November 1997 homily described Christ’s true kingship with these words of Jesus: “I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (Jn 18:37).
The Holy Father said Christ did not “aspire to any political power in Israel. On the contrary, his kingdom goes well beyond the borders of Palestine.” Christ’s kingdom is universal in scope, including everyone who is of the truth hearing his voice and recognizing him as king.
Is Christ’s divine and spiritual kinship not of this world? We ask this as in the Our Father prayer Jesus has taught us, we also pray “thy kingdom come.” Are we to consider Jesus as our king only in some later time? In our prayer, however, we continue to say, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Today’s Gospel teaches us what God’s will is for us here on earth and how it will be the yardstick for us to enter the kingdom of heaven or not. Jesus said that the blessed will be those doing acts of mercy (giving food to the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, caring for prisoners and visiting them) for “one of these least brothers of mine” doing it in his name. The accursed will be those who fail to be merciful. The last verse of the Gospel reading sums up the judgement process: The accursed will go to everlasting punishment and the righteous to everlasting life. This is how we will be judged during judgement day, not by our educational attainment, not by how rich we are, not by how popular we are, etc. St. John of the Cross is quoted to have said: “In the evening of life we will be judged by love alone.”
On this Sunday when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ as King of the Universe and closes the liturgical year, may we reflect on our readiness to enter the kingdom of God.
The judgement in today’s Gospel comes after the three parables about preparing for the coming of the Son of Man. In each the master or bridegroom will come eventually no matter how long he may be delayed. In each parable what is demanded is constant watchfulness and readiness. Are you a wicked or faithful servant, foolish or wise maiden, fearful/lazy or enterprising servant?
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Based on today’s Gospel, do you consider yourself a goat or a sheep? 2. What are ways for you to be both a good sheep and a good shepherd?
Bibliography: Harrington, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew (Minnesota: 2007); https://www.vatican.va/
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna July 2014 and July 2023