Beyond Impressions and Public Perception

Sunday Gospel Reflection
Solemnity of Christ the King
Matthew 25:31-46 | November 26, 2023

Beyond Impressions and Public Perception
Claud Cellan
Ministry of Lectors and Commentators

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Gospel offers a compelling depiction of the true meaning of devotion and service to God.

Our Gospel today (Matthew 25:31-46) begins with the words, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” This declaration serves as a poignant reminder, stirring anticipation as we conclude the liturgical year this week and usher in Advent next Sunday—a period of preparation that focuses our attention on Christ’s imminent return and the celebration of Our Lord’s birth at Christmas.

Upon His return, there will be separation, as He says, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” This analogy provides an understanding of their differences. While sheep willingly follow, stick together, and yield to their shepherd, goats exhibit independence and stubbornness. Throughout the Bible, Jesus often refers to Himself as our Shepherd, using this imagery to convey His desire for us to resemble sheep—eager followers, acknowledging our dependency on God, and actively engaging in a community of believers. In contrast, goats symbolize the stubbornness of unbelievers and pseudo-believers who insist on autonomy in thought and action. The Gospel says, “[The Son of Man] will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

To those on His right, He will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Recognizing their confusion, Jesus explained, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Then, He will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Confused, they asked in protest, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” He answers them, “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” He then concludes, “And these will go off to eternal punishment.”

The Gospel today serves as a compelling call to action for us Christians, urging us to actively engage in helping especially those in need.

The Solemnity of Christ the King encourages us to celebrate and live out our faith in public. “Thus, by sermons preached at meetings and in churches, by public adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed and by solemn processions, [people] unite in paying homage to Christ, whom God has given them for their King.” (Quas primas, 26) However, the public celebration of our faith should not be mistaken for a mere display or an attempt to project an outward image of goodness. Celebrating and living our faith in public is fundamentally about embodying our faith genuinely, mirroring the actions of Jesus, rather than seeking public recognition. It is about freely living our Christian faith, without fear of potential discrimination and persecution from those who may not share our beliefs.

Today’s Gospel reinforces this commitment, urging Christians to actively extend a helping hand to those in need, extending compassion even to those who do not share our faith.

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