(LAST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME)
Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925 in response to the rise of totalitarianism. It celebrates Christ’s reign over the human race and human hearts. The feast emphasises God’s ultimate forgiveness as well as Christ’s eschatological return and final sovereignty over all creation. This last theme is continued during Advent.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in our being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link.
First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12. 15-17
The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness. I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will show them where to rest – it is the Lord who speaks. I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.
As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this: I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon the first reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word.)
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 22:1-3. 5-6
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose. R.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name. R.
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing. R.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever. R.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. 28
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in the proper order: Christ as the first-fruits and then, after the coming of Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, having done away with every sovereignty, authority and power. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and the last of the enemies to be destroyed is death. And when everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subject in his turn to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
PAUSE again after this Reading and reflect like you did after the first Reading. The Community response is the sung ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it…
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since 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 made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.” Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?” And the King will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” Next he will say to those on his left hand, “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.” Then it will be their turn to ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help?” Then he will answer, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory.
For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink.
I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.
I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.
To the point
The gospel for this festival honouring Christ the King presents him enthroned in glory, judging the nations. The one who has shepherded us toward the Day of Judgment (see first reading) demands only that we have also shepherded one another. Thus, ultimately, judgment is based on whether we have lived as Christ.
Connecting the Gospel
To the last two Sundays
This gospel clarifies elements of the last two Sundays. The possessions the master entrusted to his servants (last Sunday) are here revealed to be the Master’s own ‘brothers’ and sisters. What we are to do during the delay while we await the Bridegroom’s coming (OT 32) is to care for them.
We don’t like being judged, but we tend to be quick to judge others. How different our judgments would be if we always realise that we are looking upon the face of Christ in the other!
Christ as King
The parables of the previous two Sundays discussed the return of Jesus under the images of a bridegroom and a wealthy master. All such images and pretexts are dropped in this Sunday’s teaching. The ‘Son of Man’ is clearly identified as a ‘king’ (25:34) seated on ‘his glorious throne’ (25:31). This is a dramatic illustration of one of Matthew’s main theological concerns. In this glorious scene the kingdom Jesus had announced and inaugurated throughout his ministry, the kingdom that has been opposed by the kingdom of Satan is revealed as ultimately triumphant. Christ takes his seat as universal judge; ‘all the nations [are] assembled before him’ (25:32) and the King pronounces judgment. This scene is Matthew’s dramatisation of Daniel 7:13-14 in which a ‘son of man,’ ‘coming on the clouds of heaven,’ is presented to God who bestows upon him ‘dominion, glory, and kingship,’ so that ‘nations and peoples of every language serve him.’ Daniel’s mysterious and glorious Son of Man is Jesus.
The scope and character of Jesus’ glorious reign are unlike the reign of other earthly kings. First, his rule, and hence his judgment, is over ‘all the nations.’ Even the greatest superpower of the day, the Roman Empire, was not so far reaching. Second, the kings of the earth demand from their subject’s loyalty and taxes; some kingdoms require military service. Christ the King demands care for ‘the least of my brothers.’ Though all the brothers and sisters of Jesus are members of his royal family, some are without food and drink, others are naked and imprisoned. Jesus accounts care of them as care of him. This is not a new teaching. Earlier, Jesus had instructed his disciples as he sent them out on mission: ‘Whoever receives you receives me’ (Matthew 10:40 – Sunday 13).
This presentation of Jesus, and the identification of Jesus with his ‘least ones,’ has profound implications for ethical conduct. This is not merely a story of ‘doing good,’ a religious warrant for secular humanitarian action. Service of others is service of Jesus; service of Jesus is recognition of his sovereignty: Christ is King.
A REALHOMILIE FOR YOU……..
Dear One and All,
Today’s Gospel contains the questions on our exam papers when we die! Please note that the questions will be very materialistic. We will be asked about a slice of bread, a glass of water, or an overcoat. It is very important that we understand the implications of living and being “Good News” on this Feast of Christ the King.
Jesus takes whatever we do for others as being done to him. Like St. Paul, we have never met Jesus in the flesh, as he looked and appeared to his Apostles. We meet him now in the shape of others, whether he is happy, rejected, or marginalised. We hear Him through his proclaimed Word. And we celebrate Christ’s union with us, and with one another, in and through the Eucharistic Celebration.
It is interesting to hear those on his right being puzzled when Jesus told them all they had done for him. They were givers by Christian instinct; they were ordinary good people, who didn’t know what it was like not to be good. In our Australian language we would call them the ‘quiet achievers’. They were generous people, who could not be mean if they tried. They didn’t see themselves as exceptional, and they certainly weren’t always conscious that it was Jesus who was the recipient of their kindness. This is real virtue, because it becomes so ingrained as to become second nature. Their giving was never of a showy nature, where they sought the praise and approval of others.
The questions on the exam paper are so simple. ‘I was hungry…thirsty….naked…in prison….a stranger…and what did you do about it?
The group on his left were amazed to find that they had not done what was expected, because they probably never gave thought to others anyhow, and such actions were not within the range of their thinking.
With our final exam, we at least have the questions before time, and it is up to us to answer them through our Christ-like attitudes and actions. Fortunately, we are given the Sacramental nourishment for this pilgrimage journey, which we make together. We have food for thought in God’s Word, and we have the opportunity to “live” the answers in a genuine way within a community, which we call Christian!
We don’t have to go far to find someone who is hungry for a word of encouragement, or who is in the prison of depression, of loneliness, bereavement or despair. They are all around us, and we can be one of them too! Do we allow and welcome others to minister to us? This is sometimes a very big question.
The Feast of Christ the Universal King, is a timely reminder to us that the Kingdom that Jesus speaks about, and calls us to, is not a Kingdom of power, oppression and glory. In the Gospel we hear that the Kingdom is within! It is about loving service, encouragement of each other’s giftedness, forgiveness, love, peace and seeking God’s will in all things, and being Christ to one another.
I would like to conclude with this special Song titled: St.Teresa’s Prayer….but here some background information first.
A story is told of the bombings of WWII
That amidst the destruction a war can do
A statue of Jesus was nearly destroyed
That as men went to work on it, many hands joined
For the statue was their symbol of God’s presence
Now more than ever they needed it for hope of existence
Experts were called to do the long work of repair
But, in the end, it was left handless…as a reminder to declare:
As before this city and the world this statue now stands
Let all read at the base and do as inscribed: “Ye are my hands.”
An endless invitation to a city now restored
To learn of and do the needed work of the Lord
Thus, in this city, one greets with friendly handshakes
And when there’s a need…the gift of hands reawakes
Let us, too, go forth and follow this city’s example
That the hope of Christ might come to another to then sample
“You Are My Hands”
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through He looks compassion on this world; yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.
YOURS ARE THE HANDS, YOURS ARE THE FEET, YOURS ARE THE EYES, YOU ARE HIS BODY.
Christ has no Body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks, compassion on this world. Christ has no Body now on earth but yours.
May God bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer.
Fr Kevin Walsh
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. Someone in the family might like to be the leader, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…
Leader: Let us ask God to hear and answer our prayers, which we offer in union with Christ our King.
- That God’s people will serve Christ the King by caring for the spiritual and physical needs of his least ones, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our Prayer.
- That leaders of governments will recognise the rights of the oppressed and honour the dignity of all, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our Prayer
- That Jesus will come quickly to save those who wait in suffering, pain and despair, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our Prayer
- That we who worship here will know the goodness and kindness of the Lord at this table, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our Prayer
- That those who have died, especially N. and N., will find everlasting joy around God’s throne, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our Prayer
- As our new week begins, let’s look back to last week. Did we see events and situations in our world which invite prayer from us? If so, would anyone like to share a prayer……..?
- Let’s gather all our prayers spoken and shared and those that are deep within our hearts as we pray the great Prayer of the Church…….Our Father…
Leader: Almighty and eternal God, you willed to renew and restore all things in your beloved Son, the King of the universe. Help us to live the truth of his kingship by serving our sisters and brothers with our whole heart. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.