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
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?
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.