Christ the King - Homily 5


Homily 5 - 2020

I have heard today’s Gospel since I was a child, and still instinctively I hear it as a child — unless I deliberately decide to look more carefully, no longer as a child but as an adult. It is so easy to hear it simply moralistically in terms of reward and punishment.

Jesus’ story is about enjoying “the kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world”. What will that experience consist in? Essentially, it’s about the company we can enjoy there — God and all those whom God loves. But to enjoy them, we, too, like God, shall need to love them.

Remember how Jesus in John’s Gospel said, “Anyone who receives my commandments .. will be one who loves me; and those who love me … I too shall love them and show myself to them. On that day you will understand that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you”. Mind-blowing! The kingdom experience is being in love. But, as he said, we can’t love Jesus without “receiving his commandments” and committing to love everyone else. That is not a nuisance, or a distraction, but is part and parcel of any genuine love. Love reaches outwards.

Jesus said true discipleship is like a vine. The vine is Jesus, and we are the branches — now. Jesus is real in people. That is why he said to those on his right in today’s Gospel passage, “as long as you [reached out lovingly] to one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me”.

If our lives are not focused on learning to love everyone [and that takes a lifetime to get anywhere near even partially succeeding], then we are kidding ourselves if we think we are loving Jesus. And we are also kidding ourselves if we think we can enjoy the reality of the kingdom. That is why Jesus sadly observed to those on his left, “As long as you neglected to [reach out] to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” It seems that those who haven’t made loving others, even those they despise or fear, or those on the margins, an over-riding priority of their earthly lives inevitably condemn themselves to the continuing self-focussed experience of lovelessness and loneliness for eternity.

As the kingdom experience of learning to live in love, with Jesus and with everyone else, begins to take shape in this life, we discover, perhaps surprisingly, it truly is Good News!