Sunday, November 22nd 2020 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
Several years ago, I was a priest in an area of Orange County that had its share of so-called “Type A” personalities. Everyone wanted to be the boss. There were too many chiefs and not enough Indians and they were fine with handing out orders but were less interested in personally carrying them out.
Today we come to the end of the liturgical year, celebrating the magnificent feast of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. As Christians we intuitively know that we are not the kings and queens of our universe, but that Jesus Christ is the true King of the Universe and we are his humble servants.
Our readings for this Sunday provide contrasting images of this King of ours — He has authority overall, and yet, He is humble and tender in His care for us, especially the most vulnerable. How can we properly honor and love such a King? By offering Him our very lives as we make every effort to know, love and serve him.
The Gospel passage from Matthew shows us how. The passage begins with Christ’s own description of His Second Coming, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.” Then the moment of judgment will come. Some will be invited into the Kingdom of Heaven — the others to eternal punishment.
This judgment will be based not on how influential we became in society, how high we climbed the corporate ladder, nor any “worldly” achievements. Rather our judgment will be based on how we treated the least of those around us, whom Jesus calls His brothers. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” To make His point clear, Jesus gave specifics — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, caring for the ill and imprisoned.
Jesus instructed earlier in Matthew’s Gospel: “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28) Type A personalities do not really fit in with Jesus’ message of servanthood. That does not diminish the fact that Jesus is the true King of the Universe and our call to serve Him through the least among His brothers and sisters.