Sunday, November 22, 2020

Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King

 She calls out to the man on the street, sir can you help me.  It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep, is there somewhere you can tell me?  He walks on, doesn't look back.  He pretends he can't hear her.  He starts to whistle as he crosses the street, she's embarrassed to be there.  Oh think twice, it's another day for you and me in paradise.  Beautiful and profound lyrics from the great Phil Collins that seem to be written for today's celebration.

We've all experienced encounters with people like the woman in this haunting song.  Perhaps we've driven by the Covington Food Bank and actually seen the lines of people waiting to receive a little food to sustain them for another week.  Those of us from New Orleans have no doubt seen the men lining up at Ozanam Inn, hoping for a meal and a cot to sleep through the night.  Maybe we have delivered a food basket to a family in need or have brought food donations with us here at church.  How many might fit the description of the lady in the song as Covid19 rages on and many find themselves under-employed and unemployed.  Think about it; or as Phil Collins sings, think twice?  Or do we think once?  How do we react; what do we say; what do we think?  Who do we see?

As people of faith Jesus, Christ the King, challenges us to think twice and see others as our King sees them.

Today we arrive at the Solemnity of Christ the King; the final big celebration of this liturgical year.  When we gather together again for Sunday Mass we will be in Advent; the beginning of the new liturgical year.  Our solemnity we celebrate today is not very old; not quite 100 years old.  Yet it's significance and it's placement at the end of the year is important.

The Gospel we read today is so appropriate as we receive instruction on the type of King we celebrate.  When you and I think of a king likely we think of thrones and crowns and palaces and power and elaborate events.  The model for Christ the King is more or a shepherd as we can see from our 1st reading today in Ezekiel.  Shepherds were so vitally important to the people of the region in the days that Jesus walked the earth.  Why a shepherd as the model for Christ the King?  A shepherd was the ruler over his flock.  Yet the shepherd cared for his flock with great compassion and dedication.  He would do anything to safeguard the flock, to maybe even lay down his life for them.  With great care, he would search aggressively for any lost sheep, bringing them back to the fold.  And as a shepherd, his goal was to lead the flock safely to their final destination; their home.  Christ the King rules over His flock too and rules over them with compassion and kindness and love.  But also, Christ the King rules with divine fairness and justice; thus he separates His sheep from the goats; he places the righteous on his right and the accursed on his left.  And then he leads His flock, along the right paths, safely to the final destination, a home that is eternal.

The path upon which He leads this flock is the example in this Gospel.  Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the ill and the prisoner.  Why?  For when we do for "them", we do for Him; our shepherd and our King.

Not just a shepherd, Christ the King, is also our great teacher.  As a teacher, Christ the King wants us to be prepared for that all important final exam that each of us will face at the end of our lives.  In His teaching today in the Gospel, Jesus is preparing us with the ultimate study guide.  A good study guide may give us the questions we will face on our final exam.  Christ the King not only gives us the questions, he gives us the answers too.  He wants us to know that we too must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the ill and the prisoner.  Why?  For when we do for "them", we do for Him; when we don't do for "them" we don't do for Him; and he is our King and our God!

What does today's Gospel mean for us today?  How can we respond in the week ahead?  After all, we are distracted today.  It's Thanksgiving week; the kids will be out of school, the family must navigate Thanksgiving in this time of pandemic.  There are many ways to respond.  we have a food pantry is right here managed by our parish staff.  You may be surprised how many of our neighbors approach during the week, simply because they are hungry.  Our poor boxes here in church are used to help the needy, again people who may be hungry, need a place to sleep, can't afford their prescriptions.  Think about it.  While visiting is certainly difficult these days can we reach out to the ill, the stranger, and the prisoner and offer our prayerful support?  Could I ask you to pray for the men from my prison ministry who have not had a visitor in over 8 months now?  Also, especially this year, can we think of and pray for the lonely.  More people will probably be alone this Thanksgiving than ever before.  Can we simply ask our King, Christ the King, to be with them in a profound and special way this year?  We can, and we must.  Because if we do so for "them, we do so for Him, the King of the Universe and the King of our hearts and our souls.

Just think about it; think twice!  

Yes, Phil Collins sung those beautiful words and reminded us that while others struggle daily, we live in our own little "paradise".  But Christ the King shows us a more beautiful way that leads to a true paradise; our eternal home.

Just think about it; think twice!

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