The Word in other Words

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T H E  W O R D
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A
November 23, 2014

Ez 34: 11-12. 15-17

   For thus says the Lord GOD: Look! I myself will search for my sheep and examine them. As a shepherd examines his flock while he himself is among his scattered sheep, so will I examine my sheep. I will deliver them from every place where they were scattered on the day of dark clouds. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—oracle of the Lord GOD. The lost I will search out, the strays I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, and the sick I will heal; but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd them in judgment.As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord GOD: I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.

1 Cor 15: 20-26. 28

   Brothers and sisters: But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

Mt 25: 31- 46

   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 these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I  N    O  T H E R    W O R D S

 

   Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Church has chosen three beautiful readings, which together aptly present to us a picture of the kind of king that Christ is. The first reading shows the king as a good shepherd; the second reading shows Christ as the King of kings; and the Gospel text gives us an integral picture of a glorious king who’s at the same time the marginalized one. In the end, we get a perplexing view ofa king who’s apart from the usual notion we have of a king, seated on a throne complete with golden crown and scepter.

   Christ as a king is our good shepherd. “I myself will look for my sheep and take care of them in the same way as a shepherd takes care of his sheep,” Jesus says, “I will look for those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick.” But because a good shepherd is also just, “those that are fat and strong I will destroy, because I am a shepherd who does what is right.” A good shepherd does not need to wear gilded crown or scepter; he attends to those who are poor, sick and marginalized, among whom he also counts himself. He is a wounded healer, a servant leader.

   Christ is the King of kings. “Then the end will come; Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father ... But when all things have been placed under Christ’s rule, then he himself, the Son, will place himself under God, who placed all things under him; and God will rule completely over all.” There is no picture of a King greater than this, one beyond our reach, above even those we deem the highest.

   But the greatest picture of all is the one drawn by Matthew, the evangelist. Put the good shepherd and the King of kings together, and

the picture does not sum up. The one and the other together explodes; it seems like Nicholas of Cusa’s coincidence of opposites. He is indeed the King as described by St. Paul in the second reading; he will come in glory sitting upon a glorious throne, ready to judge all nations and separate the goats from the sheep. But, beyond all the externals, he is the one who was hungry when you gave him food, the one who was thirsty when you gave him drink, the lost stranger when you welcomed him, the naked whom you clothed, and the poor prisoner whom you visited.

   “Whatever you did to the least of your brothers, you did it to me,” says Jesus, “Whatever you did not do to the least of your brothers, you did not do to me.” In other words, there’s nothing I do or do not do which is, in fact, something I do or do not do to Jesus. This is because everything and everyone around me is Jesus. This is precisely what the Jesuit philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, used to say that Christ is the cosmos; he is the Cosmic Christ.

   It means that there’s no act of mine which is neutral. At no time should I act carelessly. Everything I do or not do counts. And at the end of the day the Lord will say, “You did it to me” or “You didn’t do it to me.” And he shall either let me into his Kingdom or shut its door on me.

– Bro. Romualdo Abulad, SVD (CTManila)

 
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