The feast of Christ the King brings the church’s year to a close and with it comes a reminder that the cycle of our own lives here on earth will also reach its completion. The end of the year is review time and affords us the opportunity to take stock of our behaviour as members of God’s household. The gospel points out very forcibly that admission into our eternal home depends on the effort we make to aid and comfort the needy. We will be assured of a place in Christ’s kingdom only if we treat others as Christ treats them. This is a challenging gospel which takes on exceptional Importance as it portrays a powerful image of judgement and presents us with the stark choice of being for or against Christ. There is no in between. None of us can reflect upon it without seeing areas of our lives where change and improvement are needed.
What the church is emphasising is the importance of turning our lives and hearts to Christ and trusting in his teaching, otherwise we run the danger of being rejected. God is going to judge us on the works of mercy we perform which is our response to human need. One thing is for certain – there will be no excuses accepted on the last day. No one will be granted the luxury of the sin of omission saying: “I minded my own business and did nobody any harm. I passed on the other side of the road.” Christ will not be deceived by appearances. He will look at nothing but the human heart, so all pretence will be wiped away, all falseness exposed and our real selves brought into light. In a glance we will be recognised as his friends, or disowned as strangers.
As the world around us is put into our hands in trust and stewardship, Christianity lays great stress on involvement in the community. Jesus is still walking the earth in the guise of our neighbour who is suffering and in want. Our shortcoming as a people is that we fail to recognise this fact. He has laid it on the line that in the evening of life we shall be judged upon the love we have shown and the small acts of mercy we have performed. Often a word of encouragement, a little recognition or a friendly smile can mean more to the poor than food, clothing or shelter, as they carry the warmth of acceptance and make them feel valued. Christ becomes real to the people around us only in so far as we reach out and show concern for their welfare and commit ourselves to fostering their dignity. Whatever good or evil we do to others is done to him. Christ rules in our hearts and in the world around us when we give of our time, energy and love in performing practical acts of charity.
Pa Peter Tipene