Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 26th of November 2023

Gospel Reflection for  Sunday the 26th of November 2023

 Solemnity of Christ the King

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The Solemnity of Christ the King serves as a powerful reminder of the ultimate authority and kingship of Jesus in our lives.

There was once a king, without a successor, who sought a ruler with immense love for humanity. Notices were sent throughout the country, inviting qualified young men for an interview. A poor young man from a remote village prepared for the interview, despite his financial struggles. Working hard, he saved money to buy proper clothes and supplies for the journey. Encountering a beggar on the way to the interview, the young man selflessly gave him his new attire and some food. Hesitant but courageous, on reaching the palace, he proceeded to the interview, despite now wearing his old-dirty clothes. To his astonishment, the king resembled the beggar he had helped on the journey. The king saw the shock in the young man’s eyes and said: “Yes, I was the beggar you met on your way”. The young man asked the question: “But why did you dress up like a beggar? You are a king! The king answered: “I knew that if I came to you as a king you would have done anything to impress me but that way I would never have known what is truly in your heart. The generosity and love to the one in need without expecting anything in return is the sign of a great heart. Looking at your love and generosity towards the beggar man proved that you sincerely love your fellow human beings”. The king further revealed: “This country needs a leader who would work for the welfare of all of the nation not just the ones who would do anything to get the throne. “You have proven that you are the right person to be my successor”.

In this poignant narrative, the story unfolds with a king assuming the guise of a beggar to provide a young man with the chance to exhibit generosity. The boy, in response, demonstrates readiness to serve both the impoverished and the royal. This narrative mirrors the Gospel, revealing a God who, akin to the king in the story, embraces a kingship focused on the poor and weak. This contrasts sharply with worldly leaders who often prioritize power over vulnerable people.

The Gospel, specifically Matthew 25:31-46, vividly depicts the final judgment by Christ the King, emphasizing that our lives will be evaluated based on our love and service to others. This portrayal challenges conventional perceptions of kingship associated with dominance and military might. Drawing from Ezekiel, the First Reading reinforces the idea of God as a merciful shepherd who tends to His flock with compassion. This amalgamation of king, shepherd, and judge imagery presents a powerful yet merciful kingship, which gathers people from every nation, transcending cultural and societal boundaries. This Gospel speaks of divine mercy and justice, and this resonates strongly in
our world marked by conflict, violence, and the misuse of power.

The Gospel metaphorically employs a shepherd separating sheep from goats, referencing a farming practice of the time. As the sheep could handle the colder night temperatures better than the goats, they were left in the open air while the goats were separated from them and brought into shelter. The parable illustrates the blessed (sheep), those on the right, who, through acts of kindness, unknowingly served the King, and the fallen (goats), those on the left, neglected his presence in those who suffer. The judgment criteria, encompassing seven conditions of human impoverishment, underscore the Gospels call for social justice in our Christian lives. It challenges us to recognize the face of God in the suffering and respond with love, service, and reverence.

The Gospel commences with a triumphant image of the King on a throne of glory, victorious over fear, sin, and death. Crucially, this triumph is not achieved through alliances with the powerful but by identifying with the poor and marginalized. The subsequent events of Holy Week, which proceed after this Gospel in Matthew, depict a victorious King entering Jerusalem, not on a war chariot but on a donkey, and later he experiences in some way those seven conditions of suffering; he becomes a prisoner, he is stripped naked; he becomes a stranger among his own people. Furthermore, his kingship is ridiculed when he is crowned with thorns and he is dressed in purple. Through choosing this path marked by suffering and death on the cross, Jesus ultimately defeats sin and death, offering us forgiveness and love. After his apparent defeat on Good Friday, this king rises victoriously from the dead, ushering in a kingdom of justice, love, and peace on Easter Sunday.

This kingdom, as the Gospel underscores, is not built on weapons or armies but on salvation through sacrificial love. Celebrating Christ the King, we are invited to recognize him in the faces of the poor, weak, and marginalized. The path into this kingdom is one of sacrificial love, echoing the transformative journey of Jesus from the cross to resurrection, a journey we too are called to follow. As followers, the call is to emulate the compassionate and merciful kingship revealed in the Gospel, embracing a commitment to social justice and recognizing his divine presence in the least among us.

– Fr Barry White

40 Hours Adoration, Cathedral of Christ the King Mullingar 24-26 November
For the celebration of Christ the King, there will be 40 hours of Adoration in the Cathedral. This weekend of Eucharistic Adoration begins with 7:30 pm Mass on Friday, 24th November and concludes with solemn Vespers and Benediction at 4pm on Sunday 26th November. Confessions will be available from noon until midnight on Saturday 25th November.