Matthew 25: 31-46 – Solemnity of Christ the King
A matter of the heart
We know that Jesus is REALLY PRESENT in the Eucharist, but He is also ‘really present’ in the poor. In scripture we read, “what so ever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters that you do unto me.” So whenever we reach out to the poor, it’s not ‘as if ‘ we were doing it for the Lord; we ‘are’ doing it to Him. Jesus is really present in the hungry, naked, lonely, and sick and those in prison. So any good we do, we do it to Jesus himself.
This passage of Matthew is taken from the last of the “great sermons” preached by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. The JBC describes this passage as a master piece, the high point and grand finale of last of Matthew’s five discourses. As this sermon draws to a close we find our self stepping directly int the Passion Narrative. This is Jesus farewell message to the masses, the last sermon of his public ministry and His personal appeal to us to prepare ourselves, if we wish to enter the kingdom. The list that Jesus enumerates contains six of the seven corporal acts of mercy (the one missing is the burial of the dead) .
When you look at the life of Jesus, it is clear that he made a ‘preferential option for the poor’; a recurring theme in the Gospels. Mother Teresa often said that the Gospel can be summarized in five words; ‘you- did- it-unto- me’. These humble words, each not exceeding four letters of the alphabet, carry the strongest message not only of Christian almsgiving but love in action.
Jesus’ call to almsgiving is not a mere distribution of one’s wealth. When Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees because he did not follow their customs of ritually cleansing the cup and dishes before eating, he responded by saying that if they really wanted to be cleansed, they should give away the contents of those vessels: “Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil; but as to what is within, give alms, and behold everything will be clean for you.” (Luke 11:39-41
Those who are called ‘blessed’ are not merely honoured with this title because they shared their wealth but because they showed mercy. Yet there are those, who at the last judgment will feign ignorance if not sound blatantly accusatory. In saying, “ Lord when did we see you hungry?” they almost sound that it’s the kings fault for not fully revealed himself; they present the view of an aggrieved party. Remember that the animals at pasture we cared for by the same shepherd and fed in the same pasture.
Finally, the Lord as king seeks nothing for himself. Even though we often live our lives for Jesus the King, he desires that we live our lives for one another. At the last judgment he does not ask us what have you done for me? Rather he asks what have you done for one another for then you have done it unto me.
Today’s Solemnity also reminds us that the son of man WILL come to judge all. There is a definiteness to this coming. As we step into the season of Advent next Sunday, this reminder will once again be placed before us as it has for so many years.