Homily for November 20th, 2005.
Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.
Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.
34th Sunday Ordinary Time Year A Christ the King
This Gospel passage is a familiar one. But, for all its familiarity, it is also a bit troublesome for some, exciting for others.
It introduces a surprising set of criteria on which “King Jesus” assesses what it takes to enter the Kingdom. Nothing is said of confessing Jesus Christ as Lord, of grace, of justification, of forgiveness of sin, etc., all notions that are part of the Church’s vocabulary. What counts is whether one has acted with loving care for people in need -- and this not as a good feeling for those in need or having said a prayer for them, but concrete actions, down-to-earth, this-worldly actions in the form of giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, homes to refugees and street people.
When the Lord Jesus comes in glory, he won’t ask whether we have been born again, what awards we have received, what degree in theology we have, what influential people we know, what renewal movements we belong to – nothing of that.
He will ask: did you feed the hungry? Did you clothe the naked? Did you visit me in prison?
And there is something striking about the scene as depicted in the story. Those who are called the blessed of the Lord seem unaware of what they have done. They are surprised to hear Jesus say: “As you cared for the least of my brothers and sisters, you cared for me. Come, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.” They ask “Are you talking to us?” They are surprised to learn that there is a deeper dimension to their acts of human compassion, there is a divine stamp on them.
With this Sunday we conclude the Church Year, feast of Christ the King. Based on today’s Gospel we are given a sort of balance sheet. How does our communing with God in personal prayer and in public worship, how does our faith in God, in Jesus Christ spill over into caring for each other, into coming to the aid of those who are in need? King Jesus leaves us with some simple, but also troubling questions….
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