‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory’ (Mt. 25:31). ⧾
On this, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the great Feast of Christ the Universal King and contemplate Him as both the Good Shepherd and the Lord of history. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats (Mt. 25:32). The Gospel of St. Matthew which we have read in the course of this liturgical year, contains two collections of parables: eight parables depicting the present character of the Kingdom of God (13:1-52), and an equal number of end-time Kingdom parables (24:32-25:46), the last of which is the parable of the last judgment. Come, O blessed of 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, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me….Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren you did it to me (Mt. 25:34-40). These familiar words have inspired great works of art such as Michelangelo’s famous Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel; and they have inspired great acts of charity, in the marvelous work that is a holy life, a life transformed by the grace and charity of Christ Our Lord. These words are a summary of our Christian life and they express the foundational principles of a culture of life that seeks the well-being of humanity in this world, and man’s salvation so that we might live with God forever in eternity. Yet, these words are not so out of the ordinary because if you have raised a family or have looked after loved ones in their sickness or in their time of need, you have done all these things.
By extension, you belong to a parish, the family of families; and as a result, you also do these things beyond the intimate circle of your own family. A properly ordered parish recognises that Christ is the King and that the life of charity which defines a parish has its source and summit in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Christ our King governs this parish from the Tabernacle, His Eucharistic throne. The Good Shepherd guides us and nurtures us with His word of truth and with the Sacraments. It’s a simple recipe. If only we followed it! Our Lord nourishes the souls of His children through the ministry of the priest who models his life on the pattern of Our Lord’s own life. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (Jn. 10:11). We fool ourselves if we think that we can live the Christian life without the spirit of sacrifice.