Christ the King

A Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace  (Matt 25:31-46)

On the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate Jesus Christ, the Universal King. Today’s gospel depicts the end of time when the Lord will take his seat on the throne of glory.  A hugely important criterion for entry into heaven is the way we treat other people, especially those in need of food, home, comforting and attention.  “Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers/sisters is the way you treated me.”

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus began his public mission by proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand.  Immediately after this announcement, he called his first disciples, the beginning of the community who would be the taskforce to implement his ideals.  The charter of his kingdom is the Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes.  Worldly kingship glories in power, prosperity and prestige, whereas the Beatitudes totally reverse these ambitions.    Indeed, Pope Francis regards the Beatitudes as a Christian’s identity card.  He writes: “In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.”

As the mission of Jesus progressed, especially because of his miracles, people wanted to proclaim him as their king, someone who would lead the nation to freedom from Roman occupation.  But starting a war was the last thing he wanted, so he swiftly escaped.  In his preaching and way of life, he set out the ideals of what the world would be like if we all lived according to his plan. But he knew that conversion would be slow, so his parables compared the growth of the kingdom to seeds falling on different kinds of soil, plants battling with weeds, a tiny mustard seed or a hidden treasure etc.  The ultimate triumph of the reign of God is still in the future.  The task of the Church is to be at the service of the kingdom.  But, as Saint Augustine remarked, there are many in the Church who are not in the kingdom while there are many in the kingdom who are not in the Church.  The qualities of the reign of God are listed in the Preface of today’s Mass … a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.

A Kingdom of truth and life

In the Gospel, Satan is identified as the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning.  In other words, anti-truth and anti-life, the exact opposites of the reign of God.  The first victim of any war is truth.  Propaganda becomes a most powerful weapon. Many people today are like Pontius Pilate who disdainfully asked Jesus, “What is truth?”  Truth has become what suits me, regardless of the facts.  Facts have been replaced by slogans.  Nowadays a referendum is won more by slogans than reasoned debate.

Do we have a world where truth is respected?  Is there truth in business dealings, tax returns, court testimony, tribunals, media reporting, daily conversation?  We have fake news, conspiracy theories, misleading propaganda and imbalanced assemblies discussing serious issues of morality.  The famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung said that the world is so rich with delusions that truth is priceless.

The second ideal is life. Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full.

How do we respect life if we vote for abortion, condone war and capital punishment, or close our hearts to famine, homelessness and poverty?

A Kingdom of holiness and grace

The kingdom of Jesus will be recognised in the evidence of holiness and grace.  Is the name of Jesus a holy name any longer?  Is Sunday the Lord’s Day, a holy day?  Has the shopping arcade become the new Sunday temple?  Kingdom people are prayerful and reverential.  They cooperate with the graces of the Holy Spirit.

A Kingdom of justice, love and peace

Saint Paul said that the kingdom of God is not about material things but about justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Are we concerned about social justice for the underprivileged?  Does our society manifest the love and peace of God?

Justice is an essential foundation for peace.  When peace flourishes, faces will be bright with joy.  And joy is a sure anticipation of heaven.

Prayer for today.

Our Father, who art in heaven.  Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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