Solemnity of Christ the King
Reading I: Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17 II: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'
45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
This eschatological discourse (chaps 24-25) is one of the five major Jesus' speeches that Matthew has presented in his gospel. This discourse concerns the events surrounding the future coming of the Kingdom of God (eschatology is from the Greek word Eschaton which means the end). The other four major discourses are: the Sermon of the Mount (chaps 5-7), the missionary discourse (chap 10), the parables discourse (chap 13), and the sermon on the congregation (chap 18).
This periscope is often called the parable of the sheep and goats. The judgment is presented in a direct and straightforward way.
The story of the sheep and goats is taken from the Palestinian life. During the day, the two animals are all mixed up. However at night the shepherd has to separate them because the goats need shelter from the cold while the sheep can stay outside all night. A good shepherd knows exactly which part of his flock are sheeps and which are goats, the separation process can imply a judgment act.
"All the nations" (v.32) and "the least brothers of mine" (vv.40,45) are usually interpreted as all humanity and all people in distress of some kind, respectively. However with Matthew and his community, the interpretation of the story may be different. Matthew usually uses "all the nations" or "nations" to refer to people other than Israel (Collegeville Bible Commentary) and "brothers" to refer to the disciples (Fuller).
The three basic human needs are food, shelter, and freedom. Jesus identifies himself with the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned ones.
One Main Point
On the judgment day, Christ will reign as the King who will judge all humanity according to the acts of kindness done to the poor and the suffering.
If today is the judgment day, what does Jesus say to me? What are my reactions to His judgment?
How am I aware of Christ's presence in others?
How sensitive am I to other people's need? What are the common excuses do I use to keep me from seeing the needs of others and helping others?
Reflect on Christ's words in today's gospel and think of a process that will help me to serve Christ in others.
What are your plans for your faith to work through love?