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Readings for Sunday’s Liturgy Solemnity of Christ the King
Meditation Reflection: Matthew 25:31-46
At first glance, this passage can seem a little harsh. We like to imagine a more sentimental Jesus, gently escorting every person to eternal pleasure, not a rigid judge calculating our deeds and sending some to eternal suffering.
Jesus is king and judge, but as He often reminded His followers – His kingdom is not of this world. When pressed by Pilate to explain this, Jesus answered “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37).
We, like Pilate, may ask “What is Truth?” (John 18:38). Truth is Reality. As Pope Benedict XVI often said in his writings, it means acknowledging that God is the Creator and we are creatures. The laws of nature that govern the health of our soul are as real and concrete as the laws that govern the health our body.
The truth is also that God is love and we are made in His image. Though weakened by sin, we have been re-made by Christ and transformed by His grace to image God’s love again. Thus, St. John can say,
|Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love…if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. (1 John 4:7-8,12)|
So if the Truth is that God is love and we are love, what does that mean on an everyday level? How does that look? How does it translate to our schedules? Pope St. John Paul II defined love clearly and simply: it is self-gift. Thus the paradox of human happiness he concluded, is that we find fulfillment for ourselves in giving of ourselves. For those of you who like lists, Jesus makes it clear and simple for us:
Works of Mercy
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. (CCC 2447)
| Corporal Works of Mercy |
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
| Spiritual Works of Mercy |
Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead
Jesus is Truth and Love. No one can pretend to be something they are not when standing before Him. Those who love will rejoice to be fully united with the King of Love. Confident in His mercy they will say yes to His transforming grace which will free them from any remaining pulls of worldliness or selfishness. Those who prefer the Kingdom of Self will refuse to enter the Kingdom of Self-Gift, preferring to be alone.
We see this in an analogous way during the holidays. Time with family requires a sacrifice of time, generosity of food and travel, hospitality, patience, and attentiveness toward others. The more we love our family, the easier those things become, and are even opportunities of service we look forward to with joy. The less we love, the more burdensome they seem, and some people may choose to remain alone on the holiday rather than deal with it all.
At Jesus’ final coming, it’s not so much that He will decide who “gets” to go to Heaven and who doesn’t, since He came to offer Redemption to all. It’s more the case that He will come as Judge of the Truth about our decision to accept or reject His saving grace in our hearts. The world might say, “show me the money,” but Jesus will say, “show Me your love.”
Life is short, eternity is long. We must begin EVERY day with prayer – even just 5-10 minutes and go to Mass EVERY Sunday, to unite ourselves to the source of Love and Grace.
From this union with Christ, fruits of His Spirit of love will permeate the actions and decisions of our day (see Galatians 5:22-23). If we first love God above all things, we will then love our neighbor as ourselves because we will see God’s image in them and desire as Christ does to mend its wounds of sin that their God-given dignity and glory might shine more gloriously.
Sound too simplistic? Give it a try. Compare a day began with 10 minutes of prayer and a day without. I can attest that I am a far more loving person with prayer and a far more frazzled impatient person without it. See how your week goes after attending Sunday Mass. Try going to one daily Mass in addition and notice the fruits that follow in your interactions with others.
- Consider how love makes everything less burdensome.
- Consider how selfishness undermines relationship and causes discord in your family, friendships, and work.
- Consider how Christ’s love and grace has transformed you. How has He changed you for the better over the years? How has His Spirit changed the way you think and act? What are areas of your life that still need transformation?
- When have you experienced self-fulfillment/happiness through self-gift? How might you continue to give of yourself to those in your daily life?
- Take a moment for gratitude, to thank Christ for the sins that He has conquered so far in you. Then take a moment for petition, asking Christ to conquer those sins that remain. Finally, take a moment for intercession, praying for those in need of healing too.
- Close your eyes and imagine the joy of Heaven. Imagine Christ coming in all His glory, shining brighter than the sun, holding out His hand for you to join Him.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Begin every day with 5-10 minutes of prayer. Read the Scriptures, thank God, surrender your day to Christ, spend a couple of minutes in silence.
- Intentionally practice one corporal and one spiritual work of mercy a day.
- Read about the life of a saint who is like you in some way to learn from his or her example. You can research “patron saint of ” to find someone with an affinity to your work or your struggle.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2019
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