November 22, 2020
Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe
This is what the Lord says: “I will seek my flock myself and take care of it.”
The Lord is my shepherd, nothing is missing.
“I was hungry… I was thirsty… I was an outsider… I was naked… Sick… in jail… every time they did it with one of these, my younger brothers,
with me they did.”
Reading the prophecy of Ezekiel 34, 11-12. 15-17
This is what the Lord God says:
“I will seek my flock myself and take care of it.
As a shepherd cares for his scattered flock, so I will take care of my flock and deliver him,
taking him out of the places where he had scattered a day of dark clouds.
I myself will feed my sheep and make them rest—oracle of the Lord God.
I will look for the lost sheep, gather the way down; I will bandage the wounds;
I will strengthen the sick; but to which it is strong and robust I will keep it:
I will appease her fairly.”
As for you, my flock, this is what the Lord God says:
“I’m going to judge between sheep and sheep, between ram and goat.”
Come out 22, 1-3a. 3b-4. 5. 6
R/. The Lord is my shepherd, nothing is missing.
The Lord is my shepherd, nothing is lacking: in green meadows he makes me lie down. R/.
It leads me to quiet sources and repairs my strength;
guides me down the right path, by the honor of his name. R/.
You prepare a table before me, in front of my enemies;
you aoge my head with perfume, and my glass overflows. R/.
Your goodness and mercy accompany me every day of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years without end. R/.
Reading St Paul’s first letter to Corinthians 15, 20-26. 28
Christ has risen from the dead and is the first of those who have died.
If death came for a man, for a man came the resurrection. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
But each one in his post: first Christ, as a scoop; then all who are of Christ, at his coming; then the end, when Christ gives the kingdom to God the Father, when he has annihilated every principality, power, and strength.
For Christ must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death.
When he has subdued everything to him, then the same Son will also submit to the one who had submitted everything to him. So God will be everything in all.
Reading the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 25, 31-46
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he shall sit on the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.
He will separate each other, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
And he’ll put the sheep to his right and the goats to his left. Then the king shall say to those on his right:
‘Come, blessed of my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Because I was hungry and fed, thirsty and given to drink, I was an outsider and they hosted me, I was naked and they dressed me, sick and visited me, in jail and came to see me.’
Then the righteous will answer you:
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and we gave you a drink?; When did we see you an outsider and stay you, or naked and dress you?; When did we see you sick or in jail and we went to see you?’
And the king will say to you:
‘I really tell them that every time they did it with one of these, my younger brothers, with me they did.’
Then he’ll say to those on his left:
‘Get away from me, you bastards, go to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Because I was hungry and they didn’t feed me, I was thirsty and they didn’t give me a drink, I was an outsider and they didn’t host me, I was naked and they didn’t dress me, sick and in jail and they didn’t visit me.’ Then they will also answer:
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, or stranger or naked, or sick or in jail, and we don’t assist you?’
He will replicate them:
‘I really tell you, what they didn’t do with one of these little ones, they didn’t do with me either.’
And they will go to eternal punishment and the righteous to eternal life.”
The Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe concludes the Liturgical Year and opens us to a new one, which will begin with the first Sunday of Advent. The liturgy of the Church, which goes far beyond rites and festivals, uncovers throughout the year the mysteries of Christ, from which the lives of Christians are illuminated, the life of each of us. Our faith, centered on Jesus, celebrates him in the liturgy constantly seeking communion with Him so that, from Him who is Life, we can shed light on the mystery of our lives. In the liturgy we do not only celebrate festivals or saints. We first celebrate Him, whose maximum closeness is expressed in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, which is the Eucharist.
Today we celebrate Christ in the reality in which he dwells in the present moment, in communion with the Father in the Spirit, in his divinity and in his humanity, as Lord of heaven and earth, King of the Universe. Victor of sin and death, risen, he has been startled and glorified to the right of the Father and from there we believe that one day triumphant and glorious will come to judge the living and the dead, to bring his creative and saving work to its fullness. More than a coming from Him to us, we could understand that it will be an going of creation and whole humanity to Him, to eternal Passover, to pariah, to the final plenification of all that is created, including each of us.
How and when it’s not within our reach. They don’t matter that much either.
He awaits us because He has given us life and called us by name to be his friends, to share God’s life with Him, and from Him. No one is strange to Him, far away or unknown.
Today’s Word of God presents us to this Christ as king of universe, eternal shepherd, and merciful judge. Pilate had already asked him, just before condemning him to death, whether He was king. To which Jesus answered in the affirmative, adding, “but my kingdom is not of this world.” The reign of Jesus effectively does not mean subjugation or oppression from above but quite the opposite, that is, service and surrender from below. He is the King who washes the feet of his disciples, who has not come to be served but to serve and give life in ransom for many. He is a King who does not oblige but seduces, who does not implore but invites, who conquers no territories but hearts, who relies not on earthly power but on the subtle strength of his Spirit. Its sovereignty will be fully manifested at the end of time above all that has been created. And your kingdom will have no end.
Jesus Christ is also the good shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep, for each of us, who knows us and calls us by our name, who enters through the door of the aprisco and not violent, who seeks us, cares for us, delivers us from evil; He who feeds us and makes us rest; he who seeks the lost sheep, gathers the stray, heals the wound, and strengthens the sick; the one who keeps the strong and sturdy, as Ezekiel’s prophecy says.
He is the eternal shepherd, as Psalm 22 says, who offers us everything so that we do not lack anything; which in green meadows makes us lie down, which leads us to quiet sources and repairs our forces; that guides us down the right path, by the honor of his name.
Jesus Christ is also the universal and merciful judge who, at the end of time, will do justice according to God’s criteria, and not ours, separating sheep and goats as the shepherd does, to good and bad.
We believe that you will propose an examination not difficult but easy, which we can get to with the task done because, in advance, we have been informed of what you are going to ask us. St John of the Cross says that, at the end of life, we will be examined in love, on love, from love.
Christ’s judgment will be manifested from the Father’s mercy and will consist in recognizing what each of us has been and done with all the gifts He bestows upon us at all times. It will not involve capricious or unpredictable discrimination, or an inquisitorial or probative process, but will consist of the realization of each person’s personal history, in the confrontation of each person’s truth with the truth of God embodied in the humanity of Christ.
And the truth of God is that He is infinite mercy, His name is Mercy, and therefore, as the Apostle James says, mercy laughs at judgment. More broadly, he says: “For he who had no mercy shall have a judgment without mercy; but mercy feels superior to judgment” (Sant 2:13).
Practicing mercy is what Jesus asks of us in today’s Gospel to be recognized by the Father as blessed, blessed, blessed, to identify with Jesus Himself, the sacrament of the Father’s mercy, and to make us partakers of his eternal kingdom. We notice how Jesus emphasizes what we did with our brothers and sisters as a discriminatory element, the good we did to Him in every poor and needy brother. We are invited to understand that God will be more severe and demanding with us when it comes to the good we did not do than in terms of the evil we avoided doing. Sometimes we are content with that, with doing nothing wrong; and we reduce our moral and Christian life to that. I don’t kill, I don’t steal, I don’t do atrocities, I don’t… But I certainly leave many good things to do that are within my reach, that I feel them as possible; I am overcome by laziness, human respect, what they will say, possible comments or judgments of others, I do not want to expose myself.
We should review the works of mercy, bodily and spiritual works, those that were taught to us with catechism, and see if our lives are reflected in them. There are fourteen works of mercy: seven bodily and seven spiritual. The bodily works of mercy are: Visiting the sick. Feed the hungry. Give the thirsty to drink. Give inn to the pilgrim. Dress naked. Visit the prisoners. Bury the deceased. Spiritual works of mercy are: Teaching the one who does not know. Give good advice to the one who needs it. Correct the wrong one. Forgive the one who offends us. Comfort the sad. Suffer patiently the defects of others. Pray to God for the living and for the deceased.
Bodily works of mercy arise mostly from the text of the parable of the Last Judgment, read in today’s Gospel. The list of spiritual works of mercy has been taken by the Church from other texts throughout the Bible and from attitudes and teachings of Christ himself: forgiveness, fraternal correction, comfort, endure suffering, etc.
To be good is to do good and, as St Paul asks us, never to tire of this task. Doing good as Christ Himself did that, as St Luke says in the Acts of the Apostles, he went through the world doing good and healing the oppressed by evil. To do good to all without distinction, particularly to the poorest, smallest, weakest or most needy, because in them Christ is always waiting for us. If in them we recognize Christ, at the end of our day, Christ will recognize us as the friend is recognized, see his same face reflected in our lives, and say, “Come, blessed of my Father, to inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world”. In this hope we live and walk toward God’s eternity.
O Jesus Christ, Redeemer of all, that before the light shon you were born of your sovereign Father, with glory similar to that of fatherhood.
You who are the light and radiance of the Father and perpetual hope of men, hear the words that your servants raise up to you from all over the orb.
The earth, the sea, the sky and what exists under the crowd of its stars pay tribute with a new song to whom the new salvation brought us.
And we, the men, who were washed with your most sacred blood, also celebrate with our songs and our praises, your coming.
Glory be to the divine Jesus Christ, who was born of such pure and chaste bosom, and glory equal to the Father and the Spirit for infinite times. Amen
O Christ Jesus, You truly carry in your goodness and humanity all the impressive greatness of the universe.
I love you Jesus, for the Multitude who is sheltered in You and who perceives, with all other beings, whisper, pray, cry, when he narrows next to You.
I love you for the transcendent and inexorable fixation of your designs, by which your sweet friendship slips from uncompromising determinism and hopelessly envelops us in the folds of your will.
I love you as the Source, the active and life-giving Medium, the Term and the End of the World, also natural, and its Becoming.
Center where everything is rediscovered and that extends over all things to bring them back to itself: I love you by the extension of your Body and your Spirit in all creation, by Grace, Life, Matter.
Jesus, sweet as a Heart, fiery as a Force, intimate as a Life. Jesus in whom I can merge, with whom I must dominate and free myself, I love you as a World, as the World that has seduced me and that you are Yourself. Amen
(P. Theilard de Chardin, Cosmic Life)
Lord, when you are hungry, give me someone who needs food;
When I’m thirsty, give me someone who needs water;
When I feel cold, give me someone who needs heat.
When you suffer, give me someone who needs comfort;
When my cross seems heavy, let me share each other’s cross;
When you see me poor, put some needy next to me.
When I don’t have time, give me someone who needs my minutes;
When I suffer humiliation, give me the opportunity to praise someone;
When I’m discouraged, give me someone to give you new spirits.
Whenever others understand me, give me someone who needs my understanding.
When you feel the need for them to take care of me, give me someone I can attend to;
When I think of myself, turn my attention to someone else.
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brethren;
Give them, through our hands, not only the bread of every day, but also our merciful love, image of yours.
(St. Teresa of Calcutta, Prayer to Learn to Love)