Meditation of the week

Thy Kingdom Come

Mt 25,31-46.

The feast of Christ the King, the culmination of the Church’s year, celebrates the completion of Christ’s work of salvation and the fulfilment of the petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come.”

Matthew 25,31-46 is the only clear and detailed description, in the New Testament,  of what the Last Judgement will be like. The scene opens with the Son of Man coming in glory, escorted by all the angels taking his place on his throne of glory where he sits to judge all nations.  In the next verse he becomes a shepherd dividing his sheep from goats as in Ez 34,17 (today’s first reading).  In the following verse we have a transition from shepherd to King – a unique use of the title on the lips of the earthly Jesus.

He will separate the good people from the bad like a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The good will be on his right, nearest to him, and the bad on left. As King, he invites the good, to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. It is appropriate that the divine creator of the world should judge all nations and not just the people of Israel.

The good people are ordinary folk who respond to the needs of people who are needy, like the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the lonely, the sick and the estranged.  They are doing the ordinary corporal works of mercy which were at the heart of Jewish religion and are at the heart of Christianity, too.

They are described in the most sublime language: “ blessed of my Father”. They are beatitude people who will “inherit the kingdom” for their fidelity, as Israel inherited the promised land.

In serving the needs of the poor, the virtuous/ the sheep, are serving the Son of Man himself, without knowing it. The goats/the bad people, in ignoring the needs of the poor, are ignoring Christ without knowing it. Both groups are surprised at the reason for their verdicts. The good people are those who don’t think they know Christ but unknowingly serve him in the poor.” When did we see you hungry and come to your help?” The bad are those who think they know Christ but unknowingly ignore him in the poor. “When did we see you hungry and not come to your help?”

In the preface of today’s feast, we say that the kingdom is about truth, and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. Whenever we promote any of these values, consciously or unconsciously, we are promoting the kingdom. We are helping the kingdom to come. Whenever we hinder one of these values we hinder the growth of the kingdom of God. We are all children of God, and those in need, the weak and vulnerable ones, need the Father’s love, the  most.  We are created to be channels of His love to all people but especially to them. This feast was introduced into the Church’s calendar by Pius XI in 1925 when the world was slowly recovering from the horrors of the First World War and already on course for the Second World War. Pius XI begged all people to let the values of the kingdom rule their bodies, souls, minds, hearts, thoughts and deeds.

When we do that in our dealings with others we are promoting God’s kingdom today.

Father Geoff O’Grady