Solemnity of Christ the
A Homily - Cycle A - 2010-2011
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Gospel - Matthew 25:31-46
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
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 these 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."
So, we live in America. No taxation without representation. Democratic Republic. Of the people, by the people, for the people.
However, I don’t know about you, but when I was young and Mom and Dad would read me stories about kings and queens, knights in shining armor, and all the king’s loyal subjects, I would often reflect on how awesome it would be to belong to a kingdom! To be a member of a royal household. To fight for my liege. To have royal blood. That would be cool. I would enjoy that. What would be needed for being in this Kingdom? A castle, definitely a castle…
Well, I got really excited when I found out that the Dundon name in Ireland once belonged to nobility, it belonged to royalty, and best of all – they had a castle! So, while living in Europe, I went on a hunt for this castle in Ireland. I asked the local people, “I’m a Dundon! I have a castle here! Sure you do, lad, just go up that dirt road.” …and so I found it …a few loose rocks on the ground and a bunch of weeds were all that was left of it. How awful! So much for royal blood. My hopes of reclaiming greatness had vanished.
…Until I went to Mass the next day, and remembered that I didn’t need to look for a castle or a throne or even a knight in shining armor. My royal blood was already there. I reminded myself of this royalty every time I entered the Church, blessing myself with holy water. I don’t bow before someone seated on a throne, but I do genuflect before the King who reigns on the wood of the cross. I don’t have any banquet hall in which my King bestows his finest foods to me, instead I enter a wedding feast where He gives me His very flesh to eat.
We come every Sunday to Mass …do we really appreciate what is happening here? Do we really appreciate where we are? Who we are? We are at a royal court, with the Shepherd who reigns over all, leading back the strayed, the injured, the sick. We are with the Shepherd who destroys every evil and every enemy. We are at a royal court that extends beyond the power of our own eyes, for with us now we have the angels, the saints who are adoring and worshiping with us here at this Mass. We are at a royal court, as beloved subjects of the King who died for us. We begin Mass with that same sign which has hung on banners through the centuries and reminds of the Kingdom that we belong to. We pray as our King taught us – “Thy Kingdom come.” Castles will crumble, nations will fade away, but this Kingdom will never fade, it will come, and today’s readings remind us of this.
It is coming this very day, for when we meet those in need, not just the homeless person on the street corner, but also the inconvenienced family member, or the sick co-worker, or even the grumpy person we don’t really like being with, we are encountering the Kingdom of God, we are meeting Christ Himself…loving others is not only good for the one we love, it’s good for us. Love makes us most fully human, because it imitates the Heart of Christ, which is meant to be given… and the works of mercy are wonderful ways to do so. When our Lord speaks of the Final Judgment, the Judgment of all peoples from all times, He gets down to business, and so what does He emphasize most? Love…received from Him, and then given to others, the sick, the lame, the hungry and thirsty…the Kingdom is there, but we must follow the King, the King who reigns with Love! This is not a request, it’s a command!
Blessed Theresa of Calcutta is a perfect example of such love. She knew that she could be with her Lord in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and that she received His infinite love in the Mass, and in Confession. But, she also knew that there was another important way to encounter Him and His love…she had to respond in love to others, to those who suffer and are in need…because, through their suffering she could experience the wounds of Christ Himself, through their suffering she could share in the royalty of the God who reigns from the Cross! And so, as she was dying, she scribbled into her spiritual director’s hand, the same phrase that would be written on her coffin, the same words of Christ Himself – “you did it to me.” We should rejoice in the opportunity we have to love others, for it flows from our royal heritage in Christ. And when it’s difficult, when the other doesn’t respond with gratitude, when they have nothing to offer back, when they seem to completely ignore the compassionate gesture we offer them, so much the better, for then we will know how our King felt on His throne…
are American, sure, but we are also members of royalty, we do have
a King who loves us dearly, who reminds us today that this Kingdom awaits us,
not through winning a castle or banner, but rather through the opportunities
He will give us to be patient, to be merciful, to provide some food where there
is none, to offer a cheerful greeting when no one else will. Grab those
opportunities, be thankful for them! You did it to them, and you do it
to Him. It’s a serious message today, because Jesus reminds us, His
instructions are not optional if we want to be with Him in Heaven...it’s
a serious message, because…He has a serious love for us, a Sacred Heart that
sets the world on fire. In loving others, we will be reminded of the
Kingdom which is ours, and offered by the Lord who reigns over all. Long
live the King, Long live Jesus Christ, our Lord and King!