Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe [A]

First Reading Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46

"For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."

If a poll were taken this month asking, “Do you like the fact that it’s now getting dark in the late afternoon?”, most of us would quickly respond, “No!” Yet we know that the descent of darkness and diminishing days are a natural part of the year’s cycle. As Winter approaches, the leaves on our trees are dying, animals need shelter, and even the power of the sun seems to weaken.

Death and life go hand-in-hand. That is what we celebrate on this feast of Christ the King. The feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday of the Church year. The liturgical year itself dies this week, and we will gather next Sunday to start a new liturgical year.

Change is what life’s about. We as individuals change physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually during our lives on this earth. Not only do we ourselves change, but our surroundings change as well: the face of the earth changes with the seasons. This relates to the observation of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman: “In a higher world it is otherwise; but here below, to live is to change, and to be perfect is to change often.” This Sunday focuses on what for each of us will be the most important change of our existence: the change from living in this world to living in some place either above or below this world.

On this last Sunday of the Church Year we celebrate the Last Judgment, when Christ will call all the peoples of all the nations throughout the course of history, and judge each of them, one by one. How long do you think that will take? If you ever thought the line for confessions during Holy Week was long, just imagine what this line is going to look like! And if you’ve ever been nervous standing in line waiting for confession, just imagine how nervous you’ll be standing in line waiting to be judged on account of your entire earthly life!

As we wait in that line, that line might be so long that we’ll think that we’ll never reach the front: that our time will never come. This is much the same way that many of us lead our lives on earth: as if we will never die, and never be judged.

We are fortunate that we have the words of Christ to give us some sort of idea about what this judgment will look like. Did you ever have a teacher who announced upcoming quizzes or tests without giving any idea what material you were going to be tested on? Not knowing makes the experience all the more difficult. But Jesus makes it very clear: whether or not we will be admitted into the Kingdom of God depends upon whether or not we allowed God into our little kingdoms while we lived here on earth, loving Him with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength, and serving Him both in Himself, and in the persons of our neighbors.