We find this Parable of Jesus -- near the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel.
It can be seen as a summation of all that Jesus was trying to teach us about the kingdom of God and what we need to do to make it more real, more present in the world – and also can serve kind of as a cheat-sheet for the entrance exam of heaven.
When the hungry are fed, the thirsty given drink, strangers are offered hospitality, the naked clothed with dignity, the sick are attended to, and prisoners are visited ---- then we are doing our part to build the kingdom – and Jesus the King is being served with love.
And it takes faith to see all of this and grace to do all of this. . . both free gifts from God – that like soap – must be used to be of any use.
As in the Gospel, the king will say to us when we get to heaven: I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine --- YOU DID IT FOR ME.
As Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta once commented on this Gospel:
“At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. . . I was naked and you clothed me. . . I was homeless and you took me in.’
Hungry not only for food, but hungry also for love. Naked not only in clothing, but naked of human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks and mortar, but homeless because of rejection.
This is Christ in distressing disguise.”
The poor, the hungry, the forgotten elderly, the lonely young, the classmate no one wants to talk to, the colleague no one wants to work with, the difficult patient that no one wants to care for, the person who always complains ----
these are the people that you and I must always recognize as Christ disguised in the least of our sisters and brothers.
With this feast of Christ the King, we come to the end of another church year. Where has the time gone?
It’s customary on this feast to sort of take a spiritual inventory, to look back and see how we’ve done this past year. How did we do?
Are we closer to God than we were a year ago?
Have we followed Jesus more faithfully?
Have we helped make the kingdom of God more visible, more realized, more present to a world desperately in need of so much?
Put another way – have we been good and faithful stewards of our time, talent, and treasure?
How did we do these past 12 months??? How WILL we do in the coming year???
Good questions to ask as we prepare to begin our journey to Bethlehem next week on the first Sunday of Advent. . .
Moments in time...