Christ the King - Solemnity - Year A - Matthew 25:31-46
Eze 34.11-12, 15-17; 1 Cor 15.20-26, 28; Mt 25.31-46
Who, who are you?
One stormy night many years ago an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk explained that because there were three conventions in town, the hotel was filled. He added, "But I can't send a nice couple like you out in the rain at 1 o'clock in the morning. Would you be willing to sleep in my room?" The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted. The next morning when the man paid his bill, he told the clerk, "You're the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I'll build one for you." The clerk smiled, amused by the older man's "little joke." A few years passed. Then one day the clerk received a letter from the elderly man recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York for a visit. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where a grand new building stood. "That," explained the elderly man, "is the hotel I have just built for you to manage." "You must be joking," the clerk said. "I most assuredly am not," came the reply. "Who, who are you?" stammered the clerk. The man answered, "My name is William Waldorf Astor." That hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria, one of the most magnificent hotels in New York. The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. The story reinforces today’s gospel message: blessings come from prudent action as the King of the Universe is going to reward each one according to what we really deserve.
The famous actor Gregory Peck was once standing in line with a friend, waiting for a table in a crowded Los Angeles restaurant. They had been waiting for some time, the diners seemed to be taking their time eating and new tables weren't opening up very fast. They weren't even that close to the front of the line. Peck's friend became impatient, and he said to Gregory Peck, "Why don't you tell the maitre d' who you are?" Gregory Peck responded with great wisdom. "No," he said, "if you have to tell them who you are, then you aren't."
The history of mankind has witnessed various types of kings and rulers. There were rulers who involved themselves in all types of corruptive and destructive power of money, violence and lust, like the Roman kings who destroyed nations and enjoyed their life and lived lavishly. There were arrogant and violent rulers who were sporting war, violence, and hatred; for example Nero, Hitler, Idiamin and many others. Today we speak and celebrate the Kingship of Christ, who is the king of kings, but with a difference. He came into this world, son of God, made man, born of a woman, born poor, who came to die and to give life. He said, “I have come to give life, and life in abundance” (Jn 10.10). What a paradox. I have come to give life – that means sacrifice my own life – and give it to you – in abundance.
Only this kingdom…
An old hermit was once invited to visit the court of the most powerful king of those times.
The Ancestor’s Bones
There was a king of Spain who was very proud of his ancestors, and who was known for his cruelty to the weak.
One time, he was walking with his advisers across a field in Aragon, where - years before - he had lost his father during a battle, when he found a holy man searching a large pile of bones.
What are you doing there? - asked the king.
Honored greetings, Your Majesty - said the holy man. - When I heard that the king of Spain was coming this way, I resolved to recover the bones of your late father and present them to you. But however hard I search, I cannot find them. they are exactly the same as the bones of country folk, the poor, beggars and slaves.
The name is found in various forms in scripture. King Eternal (1 Tim 1.17), King of Israel (Jn 1.49), King of the Jews (Mt 27.11), King of kings (1 Tim 6.15; Rev 19.16), King of the Ages (Rev 15.3) and Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Rev 1.5)
Those who fought against suppression of the Church in the French Revolution have vehemently noted the French words 'Dieu Le Roi' beneath the heart-and-cross, meaning 'God (is) the king'.
The ideological movement of Christ's Kingship was addressed in the encyclical Quas Primas of Pope Pius XI, published in 1925, which has been called "possibly one of the most misunderstood and ignored encyclicals of all time". The Pontiff's encyclical quotes with approval Cyril of Alexandria, noting that Jesus' Kingship is not obtained by violence. "'Christ,' he says, 'has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature.'"
Not Just Human Power
Pope Benedict XVI has remarked, that Christ's Kingship is not based on "human power" but on loving and serving others. The prefect exemplar of that acceptance, he pointed out, is the Virgin Mary. Her humble and unconditional acceptance of God's will in her life, the Pope noted, was the reason that "God exalted her over all other creatures, and Christ crowned her Queen of heaven and earth.
On this Sunday which closes the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In the Gospel we listened to Pontius Pilate's question to Jesus. "Are you the King of the Jews?" (Jn 18.33). Jesus replies by asking in turn. "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" (Jn 18.34). And Pilate answers. "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" (Jn 18.35).
Not of this World
At this point in the dialogue, Christ states. "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world" (Jn 18.36).
Everything is clear and transparent now. Faced with the priests' accusation, Jesus reveals that his is another kind of kingship, a divine and spiritual kingship. Pilate asks for confirmation. "So you are a king?" (Jn 18.37). At this point, excluding every erroneous interpretation of his royal dignity, Jesus indicates his true kingship. "I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice" (Jn 18.37).
To the sheep, those who have persevered in their living faith until the end, Jesus will say, come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For when I was hungry, you gave Me food. When I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed Me. When I was naked, you gave Me clothing. When I was sick, you took care of Me. When I was in prison, you visited Me. For as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to Me.
To the goats on His left, He will say, you that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire 0prepared for the devil and his angels. When I was hungry, you did not feed Me. When I was thirsty, you gave Me nothing to drink. Etc...
Today's Gospel echoes the eternal Divine love and justice of our beloved King. He will show His eternal love to those who have shown love in this world. He will show His eternal justice against those who have failed to live a righteous life. Divine justice shall favour those who have been persecuted because of their living faith in Christ.
He Made It
There was once a Catholic King’s son who went out into the world, and he was full of thought and sad. He looked at the sky, which was so beautifully pure and blue, then he sighed, and said, how well must all be with one up there in heaven. Then he saw a poor gray-haired man who was coming along the road towards him, and he spoke to him, and asked, how can I get to heaven. The man answered, by poverty and humility. Put on my ragged clothes, wander about the world for seven years, and get to know what misery is, take no money, but if you are hungry ask compassionate hearts for a bit of bread. In this way you will reach heaven.
Then the king’s son took off his magnificent coat, and wore in its place the beggar’s garment, went out into the wide world, and suffered great misery. He took nothing but a little food, said nothing, but prayed to the Lord to take him into his heaven. When the seven years were over, he returned to his father’s palace, but no one recognized him. He said to the servants, go and tell my parents that I have come back again. But the servants did not believe it, and laughed and left him standing there. Then said he, go and tell it to my brothers that they may come down, for I should so like to see them again. The servants would not do that either, but one of them went, and told it to the king’s children, but these did not believe it, and did not trouble themselves about it. Then he wrote a letter to his mother, and described to her all his misery, but he did not say that he was her son. So out of pity, the queen had a place under the stairs assigned to him, and food taken to him daily by two servants. But one of them was ill-natured and said, why should the beggar have the good food, and kept it for himself, or gave it to the dogs, and took the weak, emaciated beggar nothing but water. The other, however, was honest, and took the beggar what was sent to him. It was little, but he could live on it for a while, and all the time he was quite patient, but he grew continually weaker. As his illness increased, he desired to receive the last sacrament. When the mass was being celebrated, all the bells in the town and neighborhood began to ring of their own accord. After mass the priest went to the poor man under the stairs, and there he lay dead. In one hand he had a rose, in the other a lily, and beside him was a paper on which was written his history. All were surprised at his courage. Well, he really was a happy man. Being miserable, he had known the real world. He was content, in spite of being poor and miserable.
Yes, our King became poor, died a death of a criminal on the Cross and redeemed us.