Feast of Christ the King – Year A
Fr. David Reitzel
Preached: Nov 26, 2017
Today the Church marks the end of the liturgical year. And she uses this as an opportunity to remind us of the end of all things. Our reading tell us of our last days here on earth as we line up for our Final Judgment. And not only do the readings remind us of the end, but so too does the environment around us. The Church could have chosen any day to be the end of the liturgical year. But she settled on today, at the end of November, and I think they had good reason.
If we look outside we see that it is fall, and this season more than any other reminds of the impermanence of this world. The trees that once were full with leaves are now bare, only skeletons of their former self. The sun is appearing less and less, and the rays that it does shed are often made grey by the ever frequent low lying clouds. And finally the warmth that we used to feel outside is now replaced with the damp cold that causes us to shiver. Nature looks as if she is dying, passing away, and this together with the end of the liturgical year reminds us that one day all things on earth will come to an end.
But the Church doesn’t just want to leave us there. It would be quite hopeless if all we thought about was the inevitable end of all things. No, while the Church choses today to mark the end of the liturgical year she has also chosen today to celibate the feast of Christ the King, a feast particularly special for us in Hamilton since our cathedral is named after it.
The Church wants us to remember that our outlook is always beyond this world, to a kingdom that will never pass away, whose king is Christ Jesus. You and I are not made for this earth, no one is, we are citizens of heaven, and we are only passing through this foreign land.
We need to be reminded of this because we sometimes forget that we are on the road to somewhere else. As we spend year after year here, as we invest time and money into building up the things of earth, we can sometimes be lulled into a sense that this will last forever. And it is when that happens that we need to stop and remind ourselves that our King awaits us in another place.
In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us that when this world in fact does come to an end, we will be called by our king. He will return from heaven and gather all peoples to himself. He will then judge between the sheep and the goats, the good and the bad, the citizens of heaven and the citizens of earth. But what will he use to judge between these two groups?
On that day, will he look at the money we earned while here on earth, the fame we had, the property we possessed? No, on the last day, none of that will be counted. That all belongs to the kingdom of earth, which is passing away. On the last day he will say, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. Naked and you clothed me, sick and in prisoned and you visited me.” Jesus will judge our citizenship based on what we did for him. And this makes sense. We prove our loyalty to our king by what we do for him. We show him that our citizenship is in heaven by working for the king of heaven.
However the catch is that like any good king, Christ considers himself so united to his subjects that a good deed done to one is a good deed done to him.
One person who knew this well was Mother Teresa. Once when a person wanted to know from where she got her energy to serve the poorest of the poor, she took that persons hand and pointed to his fingers one by one saying, “you did it to me”. Mother Teresa was able to see Christ so clearly in all she met that when she saw someone in need she couldn’t help but come to their aid, for she saw Christ looking at her saying, “help”.
Today at the end of the liturgical year, on the feast of Christ the King, we need to remind ourselves that this world is passing away. It will come to an end. But we should not be disturbed or despair, because we also know that we are not meant for this world. We are citizens of heaven with Christ as our king. But we need to prove our citizenship by what we do for Christ in others.
So today think of an act of love, a form of charity that you have been putting off. Do you know anyone in the hospital or a nursing home? Have you sees someone hungry for food or maybe hungry for affection? You don’t need to travel to the ends of the earth to find someone in need, they are beside you, they live in your home, and they walk past your house every day. Help them, and on the last day when you stand before Jesus sitting on his thrown, he can say, “you did it to me.”