Our Lord Jesus Christ the King: Gospel – Matthew 25:31-46
I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink
On this final Sunday of the Church year, we turn our gaze to the end of time, when Christ the King, the Lord of history, will come again. The Gospel passage reveals that the Lord will judge us based upon how we responded to those in need, illustrating the point that we cannot truly love God without loving the poor.
This “stupendous parable of the Last Judgment” teaches us “the truth about our ultimate destiny and about the criterion by which we will be evaluated,” as Benedict XVI comments:
Who does not know this passage? It is part of our civilization. It has marked the history of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, the institutions, the multiple charitable and social organizations.
If we put love for our neighbor into practice in accordance with the Gospel message, we make room for God’s dominion and His Kingdom is actualized among us. If, instead, each one thinks only of his or her own interests, the world can only go to ruin.
Jesus sets this “condition for entering His kingdom” because He “shares the life of the poor” and “identifies Himself with the poor of every kind” (Catechism paragraph 544).
St. Augustine imagines how the Lord will address those who have failed in this mission:
I placed My poor little ones on earth for you…Would that you had known that My little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into My treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in My presence.
— quoted in Catechism paragraph 1039.
If we fail to help our neighbor, we are refusing “grace and divine love,” and rebuffing God’s offer of friendship (678).
“We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love Him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against Him, against our neighbor or against ourselves” (1033).
Question for reflection: How have I encountered Christ by helping someone in need?