By Fr. Harry Brown, C.PP.S.
In Ezekiel the Lord God personally looks after the sheep and lovingly cares for them. Whereas in St. Matthew’s Gospel, we sheep are the ones called to care for those in need. Instead of God caring for us, we are told that when we truly tend to others, we are actually tending to the Lord. Thus, “I was thirsty, and you gave me drink” (Matthew 25:35).
As God, Jesus definitely knew the sufferings of humans. By becoming man, he suffered what men, women and children have to suffer and endure. No wonder Christ, our King, lays down this test for entering his heavenly home: Did you help the needy or not? Yes, today’s Gospel is perhaps one of the most important in the whole story of Christ our King. It’s Good News for those who truly help the needy, but bad news for those who pay very little or maybe no attention to the needs of others.
Test yourself: have you ever fed a hungry person—adult or child? When did you last visit a sick person or phone that person during this pandemic? Or call a relative or friend in prison? Or call a lonely person who may have just lost a loved one? Indeed, if you have done little or nothing, you may hear that command from our King: “Depart.” Christ makes himself one with all in need: he is the hungry, he is thirsty, he is sick, he is naked, and he is in prison. When we die, we want Christ to say to us: “Come in!”
Christ as our King has dominion over all creation. And we know he is in a kingdom, not of deceit and destruction, but of life and truth. His is a kingdom, not of conceit and evil but of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace. His kingdom is already present. But where are the mighty kings of the past? Alexander the Great was said to have wept because he had no more worlds to conquer. And Julius Caesar, whose famous legions made the earth quake from Africa to Britain. Plus Napoleon, who desired to cut up Europe like a wedding cake with his victorious sword. And look what happened when King Henry VIII of England defied the Church.
These “kings” of the past are now only skeletons in a tomb with no impact on contemporary life. In every sense, they are dead. There is only One King out of the past who lives on today and still reaches out with his warm hands to touch and really affect the lives of people like ourselves. His name is Jesus Christ. We should all shout out: “My King is Christ!”
Fr. Harry Brown, C.PP.S., is in ministry at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio.