Pastoral Sharings: "Feast of Christ the King"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Feast of Christ the King
Posted for November 23, 2014
Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the last
Sunday in the Liturgical Year. The Gospel is all about the
Last Judgement.

In Catholic theology we speak about two judgements: the particular and the general. We know that each one of us will face our own particular or personal judgement at the point of our death. The very moment we die we will each meet our maker and be accountable for whatever we have done in life.

Those souls who are found to be perfectly pure are admitted to the beatific vision immediately; this is the case with the saints. Those of us who at the time of our death are guilty of sin, if those sins are very serious, are consigned to hell or for those with sins less serious then to purgatory for purification before being admitted to heaven.

This is the particular judgement which every single person has to undergo at the moment of their death.

Then there is the general judgement which is what our Gospel reading is all about. This occurs on the Last Day and it will be Christ who exercises this judgement. In short it will be a recapitulation of all the particular judgements that have been made at the point of death and it will be a laying bare of the lives of every human being so that all can be weighed in the balance and Christ’s universal judgement be made known.

The Last Judgement will be the event which inaugurates the reign of Christ the King. The universe will be renewed and the purposes of God will be made known. God will dwell among men and as it says in the Book of Revelation “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

We do not know when these cataclysmic events will take place. As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew (25:13), “Stay awake for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

The account in this Sunday’s Gospel is as we have seen about the Last Judgement. It describes in an allegorical way how that judgement will take place on that awesome day. There is no opportunity for those to be judged to offer justification or defence of their actions; there is no possibility of a trial, just a verdict.

After all, no defence or justification is required since the judgement is being handed down by the one who knows the whole story, the one who knows us better even than we know ourselves.

Jesus summarises the good deeds performed by the righteous. Unsurprisingly they do not take credit for what they have done. They did not know that when they fed the hungry or clothed the naked that they were feeding and clothing Christ. As far as they were concerned they were just doing what they ought to have done.

The same goes for the unjust. They did not realise that it was Christ they were spurning when they refused to feed the hungry. If they had known this then their actions might have been quite different.

Listening to this account of the Last Judgement ought to bring us to our senses. It ought to make us sit up and take notice of what awaits us. We need to be very aware that each of our actions has consequences and that there is indeed going to be a day of reckoning.

It is very easy for us to lull ourselves into a false sense of security and think that one day is the same as the next and that nothing really matters; but this is a serious mistake.

One of the defining characteristics of human beings is that we have a conscience. No animal has a conscience; they can never commit a sin since unlike us animals do not have the ability to make moral judgements.

However, we do have a conscience; we know the difference between good and bad and we are able to choose between them. This ability to choose between good and evil is what the Day of Judgement is all about; it is our day of reckoning for the choices we have made in life.

Some of us might be quaking in our shoes at this point as we reflect on certain aspects of our lives and on the times when we have chosen to part ways from Christ’s Gospel. We might be thinking about those times when we have given into temptation and been deceitful or betrayed our loved ones or ignored the plight of the poor or actively disbelieved in God or any of a hundred other sins.

Fortunately in the Church we have a wonderful sacrament that wipes all these things away and returns us to our Baptismal innocence. We should make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we find ourselves having committed serious sin so that we might be restored to union with Christ.

The Advent season begins next week and it is a good time to return to this wonderful sacrament. I expect as we get closer to Christmas there will be frequent opportunities to celebrate reconciliation.

Today is, as we know, the Feast of Christ the King and entry into his Kingdom is the thing that we have been preparing for throughout our whole lives. We are aware too that Christ came into our world on the very first Christmas Day and we realise that in essence it was at that point that he inaugurated the Kingdom of God. So in a very real sense the Kingdom is already among us; however we know that it will not come into its complete fullness until the very end of time and the moment of the Last Judgement.

This means that the task of Christians of today is to help build the Kingdom of God and enable it to find a place in the hearts of all of mankind. It is our job to play our role in building up the Kingdom here and now. We recognise that this is a sacred duty, an honourable task, a privileged undertaking and one which we should all be keen to be involved in.

And so on this great Feast Day, the last in our Christian Calendar, our hearts are not filled with dread of a Last Judgement but rather they are filled with hope and optimism. This is best summed up in the words spoken as we greet the flame of the Paschal Candle on Holy Saturday Night:

Christ yesterday and today,
the Beginning and the End,
Alpha and Omega.
All time belongs to him
and all the ages.
To Him be glory and power
Through every age forever. Amen

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 23, 2014

Feast of Christ the King, Year A—November 23, 2014
Today, Jesus turns from parable to prophecy. How have the parables prepared us for this prophecy?

Gospel (Read Mt 25:31-46)

On this Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, the Church gives us a Gospel reading that looks back and looks ahead (something we often routinely do at the end of our calendar year). Our readings lately in St. Matthew have taught us that Jesus, like the bridegroom and the master in the parables of the virgins and the talents, will return. We have understood from both of them that His return will precipitate an accounting (Have we been wise? Have we been faithful stewards of His graces?) Today, Jesus describes this future event, no longer using stories to make His point. Yet the lessons from those parables, instructing us to be rich in the good works that come from our faith in Him, pervade His description of it. What in it seems familiar?

Last Judgment
On the final Sunday in the liturgical year, it is time to remember things that we’d prefer to forget. For starters, we recall that there is an infinite qualitative difference between us and God. He is immortal and infinite. We are not. Each one of us will come to our individual end. But so will our society, our world, even our universe.

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: Viva Cristo Rey!
November 23, 1927.  The dirty walls of the place of execution resounded with the shout, “Viva Cristo Rey!  Long Live Christ the King!”  And Blessed Miguel Pro completed his life, his arms held out wide in the form of a cross.  His shout was the defiant cry of the Cristeros, the Catholics of Mexico who were determined to restore the reign of Jesus Christ in a land that was suffering the most intense anti-Catholic persecution since the time of Elizabeth I of England.

Pope Francis: Children Have Right to a Mother and Father
‘The family is the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation,’ the Holy Father affirmed.

VATICAN CITY — Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that “the family is the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation.”

The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17, at the opening of the three-day international, interfaith colloquium entitled “The Complementarity of Man and Woman,” currently under way in the Vatican.

Pope Francis is Coming to America!
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday confirmed he will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis.  “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The Promise of Christ in the Old Testament
The whole human race allowed itself to be corrupted. In the words of Saint Paul: “In past generations [God] allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16). Each people wished to have its own god and to make it according to its fancy. The true God, who had made all things, became the “unknown god” (Acts 17:23) who, although “not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27) by his works and his gifts, was far removed from our thoughts. A very great evil was triumphing and soon would have become universal. To prevent it, God raised up Abraham, in whom he wished to make a new people and to reunite the peoples of the world in God.

Hate the Sin Love the Sinner – How Do I Do That?
It’s a typical Christian bromide: “Hate the sin. Love the sinner.”

The problem is–how do I do that?

The sinner sins. How do you separate the sin from the sinner, and to be honest, at the final judgement it is the sinner who is condemned for his sin. It’s not like Jesus says, “There, there, you can come into heaven, but  I’m going to send your sin to hell.” No. At the last day the sinner is condemned with the sin.


Celebrating Advent in a World that Can’t Wait for Christmas
Before any important event in human life, there is generally a period of preparation. Before First Communion, before Confirmation, before Marriage, we prepare ourselves through study and works. Before going on a vacation, we prepare and plan for weeks or months.

Even before the arrival of guests, we prepare by cleaning and straightening our homes. Such preparations move our thoughts and our souls toward the things we anticipate. It would make sense, then, that before such an awesome mystery as the Birth of Our Lord, we need time for quiet contemplation.

Be Willing to Simply Love God
If I am not mistaken, when we say that we cannot find God and that He seems so far away, we mean only that we cannot feel His presence. I have before observed that many people do not distinguish between God and the feeling of God, between faith and the feeling of faith, which is a very great defect. It seems to them that when they do not feel God, they are not in His presence, which is a mistake.

The Hour of Mercy
Eight months ago after welcoming my youngest into the wide world, I rediscovered the wee hours of the morning. After my longest gap between newborns (almost five years) in which I’d grown used to sleeping and waking according to my own wants and needs, I had to relearn that sacrificial habit of fumbling in the darkness to meet a nursling’s persistent and repeated demands.

“Have you been saved?
In Acts 4, St. Peter delivers a powerful sermon. He concludes by saying, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

I have written before in these pages of the time when I was growing up in the southern part of the United States and how I would from time to time encounter young, protestant teens and adults who would excitedly take to the streets to witness for Christ.

The Historical Argument for God – did I use this before?
The argument from history is both stronger and weaker than the other arguments for the existence of God. It is stronger because its data (its evidence) are some facts of history, things that have happened on this planet, rather than principles or ideas. People are more convinced by facts than by principles. But it is weaker because the historical data amount only to strong clues, not to deductive proofs.

The argument from history is the strongest psychologically with most people, but it is not the logically strongest argument. It is like footprints in the sands of time, footprints made by someone great enough to be God.

There are at least eight different arguments from history, not just one.

Remaining Tethered to God
Recently, I had the privilege of caring for the newest member of our family. Jacob Alexander is two months old, and his mother was returning to work.

Since he is the first addition to our extended family in the past 5 years, there are some adjustments being made. We have slowly become accustomed to more independence when it comes to the children. They eat what we eat, have graduated to boosters rather than car seats, and are able to take care of basic grooming for themselves.

The Dying Words of Jesus & His Saints
Each November, when the dark nights lengthen and trees become bare skeletons, we especially pray for the souls of those who have gone before us in death. This is also a fitting time of year to remember and consider the certainty of our own mortality. How did Jesus and his holy ones face the end of their lives? Their dying words can both instruct and inspire us:

Witness for Life
The pro-life movement has produced many unsung champions, due to the fact that the battles in this realm are many and hard-fought — and oftentimes unrewarding.

However, each of us has the ability to effect change in this important cause, as can be seen by the life of Ruth Pakaluk (1956-1998). She is an incredible modern example of how one person can be a witness to God’s beautiful gift of life. Ruth’s husband, Michael Pakaluk, provides evidence of her heroism in his compilation of her letters, The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God.

Why should we meditate on hell and judgment?
Dear Dan,

Why would the Church recommend that we meditate on such horrible things as hell and the last judgment (aren’t there four things.)? Anyway, if there is a benefit to doing such a thing, what would that look like?

Dear Friend,

“The Last Things”, or “Eschatology” is the subject that deals with the ultimate truths of our existence. Often called “The Four Last Things,” the number can vary. They are death, judgment, heaven, and hell, but we can also include purgatory and the final judgment. Some add the resurrection of the body and the end of the present world to complete the picture.

Commentary on the 4 Sins that Cry to Heaven for Vengeance
Listers, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are sins that cry out to heaven. “The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are ‘sins that cry to heaven’: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.”1 Traditionally, these sins have been categorized as four distinct heinous acts: willful murder, the sin of Sodom, oppression of the poor, and defrauding laborers of their wages.

Life is a Casting Off
What is it in me that likes the difficult sayings of Jesus more than the easy sayings?

Everybody loves Jesus who says, “Let the little children come to me” and “Neither do I condemn you”

But have you read the gospels lately?  Jesus’ teaching is much more forceful and strident than we like to remember.

Was the Book of Revelation Written for Us?
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who gives witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.

So begins the most misunderstood book of the Bible.

Do Souls Return from Purgatory?
Judging from the response to a recent post on holy souls who return from Purgatory, there seems to be a lot of interest in the subject. But, as Rome’s Little Museum of Purgatory contains only a tiny collection of the known “hard evidence” left behind by these holy souls, it makes sense to follow up with a sampling of burn marks left on cloth, books, doors and people, which can (or could, in the case of people) be seen in many places across Europe. And then there is, of course, the written testimonies of saints to which one can turn as further evidence of holy souls returning from Purgatory.

The Lowest Place in Heaven
When we hear the Gospel passage (Mt. 20:21-23) in which the mother of the Apostles James and John (to whom Jesus gave the title, “Sons of Thunder”) petitions Jesus to permit her sons to sit on his right and left side in the Kingdom to come, many of us might think: “typical Jewish mother” or “what cheek! – who do they think they are?”

But there was a time in my late teens, when, after becoming acquainted with the mystical treatises of St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, Henry Suso, etc., and lives of various saints, I identified with the Sons of Thunder, aiming for nothing but the top. I even joined a religious order for a couple of years.

Infallible Does Not Mean Sinless
A quick reminder that infallible does not mean sinless. Here are some quick facts about the papacy:

1) All of the 266 popes have sinned, including the first pope, St. Peter, who committed among the worst of sins: He denied Our Lord three times during the Passion.

2) While all of the popes have been sinners, it’s also true that many of the popes have practiced heroic virtue, rising to the heights of great sanctity. The first popes (and several subsequent popes) died as martyrs for the faith, and many popes have been canonized or beatified. Saintly popes are common.

Our Bodies are Living Cathedrals
When someone talks about a cathedral or church, we often think about a building. Stained glass windows, candles, crucifixes and tabernacles might come to mind. Words like “chapel” invoke different imagery for different people, but there are similar themes and descriptors.

These physical places of prayer are important. However, Christians sometimes forget there is another type of church: our bodies.

Nine Words We Must Say Every Day
When I was young child growing up in the 70’s, I remember seeing greeting cards and cheesy home décor with the quote, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” an oft quoted line from the melodramatic film Love Story. It never made sense to me. If that is indeed true, I would tell myself, then there is something terribly wrong with me.

The Miraculous Medal
Q: I received a Miraculous Medal for Confirmation. Where does this come from and what does this mean?

The story of the Miraculous Medal arises from the apparitions of our Blessed Mother to St. Catherine Laboure, a novice at the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris (where it still stands today at 140 Rue du Bac). St. Catherine (1806-1876; canonized 1947) was the daughter of a farmer, and was the ninth of 11 children. When she was eight years old, St. Catherine lost her mother.

And Death is Gain…A Reflection on the Christian View of Death
In the month of November, we remember the souls of the faithful departed and our obligation to pray for them. November and into the early part of Advent is also a part of the Church year during which we begin to ponder the last things: death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. In the northern hemisphere, the days grow shorter. In regions farther north, the once green trees and fields shed their lively green, and after the brief, golden gown of autumn, a kind of death overtakes the landscape. Life changes; we grow older, and one day we will die.

Each Person Is a Divine Revelation
In touring some underground caverns recently, the cave guide said that the exquisite formations all around us took tens of millions of years to form from billions of acidic water droplets which had entrained trillions of tiny particles of materials. Conditions above and beneath the surface had to be precisely correct, and changes in and on the earth had to occur in an exact order over millions of millennia so that the water could seep through hundreds of feet of stone to form natural works of art, as if made by some infinitely patient expert sculptor.

Why We’re Called the Catholic Church
G. K. Chesterton once remarked that Catholics agree about everything; it is only everything else they disagree about. That is to say, Catholics (and by this he meant “Catholics who know and believe their Faith”) agree on a few cosmic truths summarized in the creeds, prayers, sacraments, and common life of the church. However, when it comes to the rest of human existence they not only disagree with one another, but take a rather gleeful pleasure in doing so.

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