November 26, 2023
Matthew 25: 31-46
Pope Pius XI was about to close the Jubilee year of 1925. In the context of the growing secularist nationalism that followed the fall of European kingdoms after World War I, he decided to establish the solemnity to Christ the King.
Kings in the ancient world used their power, privilege, and jurisdiction to lead mighty armies and conquer land and people for their own dominion. Many kings were known to be tyrants who claimed that they ruled by ‘divine right’ to both appoint and to put to death. They held lavish and, at times scandalous feasts, entertained royalty and did all in their power to extend their kingdoms. They believed that their kingdoms would have no end.
It is now 2023 and the idea of ‘king’ is a conundrum, yet every year we celebrate “The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” What meaning does this annual feast have for us?
I would like to suggest that it all has to do with relationships. Kings were supposed to have a relationship with their all their people…not only the powerful and influential ones but most especially, the marginalized, the widows, the children, the women, the aged, the dying, the disabled, the invisible ones who made up their kin-dom. This relationship was also meant to encompass and include respect for the land, as well as the resources of water, fire and air they had around them.
History has shown how these gratuitous resources given by a lavish God have been plundered and pillaged by Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Amans, Amirs, Shah’s, Kaisers, Czars etc. Deuteronomy (17:20) made it clear that rulers must “not consider themselves better than their sisters and brothers and turn from the law of God to the right or to the left” The most powerful one in the land must be the first to model commitment to the Law of God.
We now live in a world, on a planet where so many relationships have been taken from granted and are now crying out for justice:
Air, which is so soothing and life-giving, is polluted, filled with harmful chemicals and acid rain that millions are suffering from air-borne diseases.
Fire, once enjoyed on a birthday candle, is ravishing our forests because of carelessness and heating of our earth’s atmosphere.
Land, a resource that farmers could count on to feed nations, is now lying fallow and causing earthquakes and tsunamis to erupt.
Water, the foundation of all life, is denied to too many, unsafe to drink for others, and killing poor populations in areas where the infrastructure was never meant to protect them from flooding and devastation.
What, if we your people, put our belief in your kin-ship into action?
What if we ceased endless waring among our families and friends?
What if we could own and admit our privilege and entitlement so as to bring about the liberation of all people?
What if our silence in the face of global degradation spoke not of our complacency but of our commitment to speak truth to the powerful.
While beholding the beauty and majesty of forests, mountain tops, flowers, and the sun setting on the ocean, we must develop a sense of paying attention to the commomplaces within which we live…that is the place where Christ the King calls ‘home.’
Matthew 25: 31-46
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by 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, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The Gospel of the Lord
Meet Sister Anne Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN