Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christ the King (And other things)

Here is the homily for Christ the King (Nov 2008). I can't believe it took me so long to post it! Once we reached Thanksgiving the holidays overtook me! My time has been much taxed this Advent and Christmas season. In the next few days I will post, my homilies for 3rd week of Advent and Epiphany.
Today we are celebrating the feast of Christ the king, a day in which our Lord Jesus presents himself as the great King who returns to His kingdom to be judge of the nations. Now this judge behaves quite differently from other judges we might know, like of Judge Judy or Judge Joe Brown. You see… these so called TV judges before they can do anything; need to ask a lot of questions. They do this because not only they need to keep the show interesting but also because their verdict can only be based on the information they can gather, the more information, the more certain they will be of their judgment.
Jesus the judge is quite different than what we see in TV, for one thing He asks no questions, He tells us that he lives in disguise among those who are the lowest and most desperate of His subjects, and there He waits to see how these “least of His brothers and sisters” are treated. His final judgment is not based on any testimony we can give Him but in the way we treated Him when He encountered us, but we did not recognize Him.
From this Gospel reading we can deduct two things. First we get a glimpse of the fact that right now at this very moment Jesus is living among us. Mother Teresa used to talk about the “many faces of Jesus in disguise”. We can see His face in those that need help, encouragement and consolation. His face is the face of sickness, pain and loneliness. If you want to see the face of God look into the eyes of those who do not have a place to sleep, food to eat or a shoulder to cry on. He makes it very easy for us to find Him, we just need to look for those who yearn for justice, for the poor, for all those society has abandoned.
The second thing we can deduct is the answer to one of life’s most nagging questions: Do the things I do matter? Well… according to Jesus they matter greatly. He says “whatever you do for the least, you do to Him”, yes he talks about visiting the sick and helping the poor but this is just part of the story whatever we do or do not do to our brothers and sisters, will have an effect in the way we will be judged.

Every action we take is building our eternal destiny, even the most simple and inconsequential action will reverberate in our eternal future. And the actions that have the highest effect in this future are those things that we do expecting no reward or recognition, especially for those that are in the most need of our help and attention.
Now if you are like me you might be thinking: “Hmmm if these are the things I need to do to get to heaven I’m in deep trouble here!” Because I’m not sure about you, but I fall very short of the standard Jesus is giving us today. Of course there are many valid factors for this, we have families and jobs. People depend on us so we cannot just leave everything we have and start feeding the first homeless person we encounter out there. But also, I do not think this is what Jesus wants from us either.
What God will want us to do is to concentrate on the first idea. He wants us to concentrate in seen Him in the ones who suffer, because if we learn to see Him in “all His disguises”, I assure you my brothers and sisters we would do anything to help them! If we were certain that our Lord was in jail, or sick or homeless we would sacrifice everything we have even our own lives to lend Him a hand. This is why learning to see him in those that are in need is fundamental to our eternal future.
But how can we do this? How can we learn to recognize the Great King in those who suffer? I think the easiest way is to start simple, by recognizing Him in those that are suffering around us. We do not need to go to the inner city or the prison or a hospital to start this process. We just have to look in our homes, our schools and our communities. I’m sure that right now we can all recall into our minds someone we know that is struggling with a sickness of the soul, or hungers for love, understanding or acceptance, or is imprisoned by a vice or a sin, someone that is thirsting for friendship and forgiveness. This is where we should start looking for Jesus face, once we recognize Him there, then it will be easy to see him in His many other disguises… And once we can do this, helping those in need will become not just something that as Christians we must do, but something that we will want to do. The great king is waiting for us, we just need to go out and find Him.