Solemnity of Christ the King

First reading: Ez. 34:11–12,15–17

Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.

Second reading: 1 Cor. 15:20–26,28

Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

Gospel: Mt. 25:31–46

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In other words

by Fr. Magdaleno Fabiosa, SVD (Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City, Bohol)

One thing striking in Matthew’s Gospel is how he underlines the fact that the values in Jesus teachings are diametrically opposed to that of the world. A cursory reading of the “Sermon on the Mount” will bear this out. The other instance where this diametrical opposition happens is in the Gospel we just read for today’s feast of Christ the King.

The definition of being King in Jesus understanding is clearly manifested in the behavioral pattern of his day-to-day life. Biblical experts of the Gospel of John say that the Last Supper event was Jesus’ commentary about his whole life; what went before this Last Supper event, and what would happen the following days that led to his death on the cross. His whole life was an act of service for the whole of humanity.

“He came that we may have life and have it to the full.” He concretely explained this act of service when he washed the feet of his disciples. The tools he left his disciples to carry out this mission of service were a TOWEL and a BASIN. Tools determine and define one’s trade. If Christ’s followers were left the tools of a servant, then they can only do the work of a servant. Certainly, a towel and basin are used to carry out a work no master would do. They are commissioned to make contact with the soiled, sometimes the unattractive dimensions of humanity and to carry out this ministry with loving attention. Such ministry can be fulfilled only by people who are not self-preoccupied, who can take their minds off themselves to focus on their ministry to the poor and the needy of the world in all their suffering and anguish. When washing another’s feet, the servant takes on a subordinate position while positioning the one whose feet are being washed in the place of a master. This is the legacy Jesus left to those whom he has chosen to continue his ministry. They were to serve, not to rule and be served. This, for him, is what it means to be King.

In the fascinating scenario of the Last Judgment, perhaps the most surprising are the criteria by which the good and wise and the evil and foolish are judged and then rewarded or punished. These involved simple and common actions available to anyone. Traditionally called the corporal works of mercy, they included feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Those who perform such actions usually do not receive much publicity or become rich and famous. What holds these actions together is their other-centeredness. They pull us out of our self-centeredness and self-absorption and direct us toward the humble service of others. This is at the heart of what it means to be King in the teachings of Jesus. In doing so, we become like Jesus the King; besides, they guarantee us an entrance ticket into the Kingdom of a King who came to serve. There, we who served others will hear these words of Jesus: Come, enter the Father’s Kingdom because the service you did to your neighbor, did for me!”

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