Fr. Dennis Jones Garcia, CJM
Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King, is a God of surprises. Although divine, he humbled himself to share in our humanity. Although powerful, he never used it for coercion. He shows up where we least expect him to be. Not in power and strength but in weakness and vulnerability.
In our gospel, the Last Judgment of the Nations, both groups gave no thought of the treatment of the “least of these”--- the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, and imprisoned. Both were surprised to discover that Jesus was present in these people. They didn’t think of the repercussion of their actions because it never crossed their mind that the Lord was present in them. And probably, they never thought of the implication of their action to these least ones simply because those persons just did not matter. And yet, their action was crucial to their salvation. The acts of mercy of the first group and the indifference of the second one spelled the difference.
The gospel, thus, invites us to recognize God’s presence in the needy around us and serve them. We can begin with the poor and serve them concretely in their physical needs which we tend to overlook and spiritualize. Pope Francis in his message on the occasion of the First World Day of the Poor exhorts us: “Let us love, not with words but with deeds”. According to him, the poor are our “passport to paradise.” And to love the poor “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”
Serving Jesus extends not only to the economically poor but to all those in need. This includes those whom we disregard and disdain, those whose convictions are opposed to ours, those we fear, those we exclude, those we perceive to be unlovable. We might be hesitant to serve them, but indeed, Jesus is also present in these people.
Jesus continues to show up where and when we least expect him, surprising us, catching us off-guard, to disarm us, to challenge our expectations and prejudices, and to invite us to love at all times.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, we affirm Christ’s sovereignty to allow him to touch our apathy and indifference, our stubbornness, and selfishness. In other words, we allow him to rule our lives that we may recognize him in all peoples and in the mundane and ordinary circumstances of our lives. And with that to respond appropriately to what he calls us to do. Our actions make a difference for moving Christ’s reign to its fullest expression and presence in this world.
If we live in a greater consciousness of God’s presence in our world and allow such awareness to direct our actions, then come Judgment day, when we face Jesus, we wouldn’t be surprised and have to say “Lord, when did we see you….”
Live Jesus. Hail our King!