CHRIST THE KING
(A biblical reflection on the SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING [YEAR A] – Sunday, 26 November 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 25:31-46
First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17; Psalms: Psalm 23:1-3,5-6; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
The Scripture Text
“When the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at His right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee a stranger and welcome Thee, or naked and clothe Thee? And when did we see Thee sick or in prison and visit Thee? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will say to those at His left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to Thee? Then He will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46 RSV)
The scene in the parable in today’s Gospel reading is the judgment at the end of the world. The parable begins with a reference to the Son of Man coming in His glory. The term “Son of Man” refers to the Messiah, the military/political leader through whom God would rule the world and establish His Kingdom. The Messiah will come in his glory at the end of the world when he will be victorious over all his enemies.
In the parable, Jesus says that the Messiah will sit upon his royal throne and all the nations will assemble before him as he separates them into two groups like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. In Palestine, the shepherd usually allowed the sheep and the goats to graze together but separated them whenever he took them home or moved them to another pasture.
The King/Messiah tells those he places on his right side that he will give them a spot in God’s Kingdom prepared for them since the beginning of the world. According to the Jewish rabbis, God created His Kingdom even before the world began and those He will judge righteous He will reward with everlasting life in this Kingdom while the wicked He will send to a place of fire reserved for the devil and his followers.
Notice that Jesus does not say judgment will be based on how well known or popular a person iss, how much money or power one has, or even where someone worships, but on how the individual responds to those who are in need. By telling us that whenever we do something for others we are really doing it for Him, Jesus identifies Himself with those who are suffering and is saying that to serve God we have to serve each other. We cannot separate our responsibilities to our neighbour from our responsibilities to God.
The parable should make us a little uncomfortable because it means we cannot sit back and expect to enter heaven simply because we believe in Jesus and go to church every Sunday. Jesus demands more from His followers. He demands we live out our faith in service to others. Unless our faith finds expression in visiting the lonely, comforting the grieving, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, we cannot expect to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 116-117.)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I adore You as my King! I am thankful that You protect me, care for me, and hear me when I call You. Grant me Your goodness and mercy all the days of my life. May I dwell with You in Your Kingdom forever! Amen.
Jakarta, 24 November 2017
A Christian Pilgrim