Our Pastor’s Corner, November 23, 2014, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
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 the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:31-41)
The Christ in Glory window is one of the signature features of St. Dominic’s Church. On a bright sunny day, the window radiates with rich red and yellow hues announcing the belief that we profess every Sunday: “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Our magnificent window shines in continuity with the early Church tradition that sees the prospect of Christ’s return in glory as the decisive moment of our life. In fact, it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king at the east end of the Church so that, as the faithful left the Church, they might carry this image with them as they went out to resume their daily routine. From the writings of St. Peter and St. Paul, the anticipation of Christ’s return as King has influenced Christians in their daily living as a criterion by which to order their present life, as a summons to their conscience, and at the same time as hope in God’s justice. On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate Christ as King in order to remind ourselves that, in the end, we will all come face to face with Christ to give an account of our lives.
Reflecting on the end of the world, particularly the idea of the Final Judgment, often evokes frightening images of terror and fear. Yet, the Gospel we hear this weekend offers us a heartening, if challenging, perspective of Judgment. Christ the King will judge our lives not based simply on our good or bad intentions, but upon what we did for the least among us. By identifying himself with the poor and needy, Christ the King gives us clear direction for our lives. To the extent that we live lives simply for ourselves and to meet our needs, our hearts will be closed to God’s love and Judgment will be a fearful moment. On the other hand, to the extent that we open our hearts to give to those in need, Judgment is the ultimate moment of hope, for this is the moment we inherit the eternal kingdom prepared for us.
Here at St. Dominic’s, I am edified by all the ways that we reach out to Christ in the least among us. This year through our Community Services, lead by our beloved Sister Anne, we will provide a Thanksgiving meal and groceries for 260 families. Many thanks to all who helped this become a reality. From the grocery bags donated by Trader Joes, Cal Mart and Mollie Stone to the food donations given by Safeway Marina and La Boulange, we are grateful for the local business which extend a helping hand. Also, a great big thank you to David Joy and Thanksgiving Once-a-Month. Finally, to all those parishioners who donated food during our Food Drive, to those who helped organize and gave their time so that those in need might have a brighter Thanksgiving, may Christ our King dwell in our hearts and give us the joy of his presence!
~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.