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Lent Recollection 2024

Lenten Recollection

 

Our Lord Christ, King Of The Universe

 

 

We don’t have as many kings and queens around the world as we used to. We have more presidents and prime ministers. Many of them are very nice people, others are questionable. But they are all very expensive. Government is very expensive and we pay for it with our tax money. We wonder how that money is being used and whether it is being used for the right purposes.

 

Today we celebrate Jesus as our King—the King and Center of the universe and the King of our hearts. He doesn’t take any tax money from us, but he asks us to use what we have to spread his kingdom on earth—by working with and for one another. That seems to be the main point of today’s gospel.

It is the great judgment scene. All the nations—not just Christian believers—are gathered before the King. And they are judged not by how many prayers they said or how many times they did not come to church on Sundays. They are judged by what they have done or not done for others. “What you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done for me.”

There is a story about St Martin of Tours. Martin was born in the 4th century in what us now Hungary and was serving in the imperial Roman army at the age of 18. One cold winter evening, as he rode back into town, he saw a poorly dressed beggar at the town gate. Martin halted his horse, took off his large red cape, slit it in two, gave half to the beggar, and rode on into town. That night in his dream Christ appeared to him wearing the red cape Martin had given to the beggar. Christ thanked Martin and said, “I was naked and you clothed me.”

Martin left military life, became a Christian and later a famous pastor and bishop. He educated the clergy and preached the gospel to the poor. As the ancient account of his life says, “He left this life, himself a poor and lowly man, and entered heaven rich in God’s favor.” He is a patron and model for people who serve the needy.

We hear that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, if only we learned how to distribute it so that no one will have too much and everyone will have what they need. “I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat and had too much for yourself.” We mess up our rivers and oceans, we pollute the air and destroy the ecological balance. “I was thirsty, but you did not give me clean water to drink.” These are things we don’t want to hear. These are things we will be judged by.

Right here in our own parish we have a variety of nationalities—right here in this congregation. We hear that more than half of the Catholics in Japan are immigrants like myself and most of you here today. “I was a stranger and you took me in.” We thank the Japanese people for welcoming us and making us feel at home. And we examine our own attitudes toward other ethnic groups.

I’m sure we all have sick relatives and friends. Do we go out of our way to visit them and cheer them up? The Lord says, “I was sick and you visited me.” Some members of our parish have the qualifications needed to visit those in prison or reformatories, or those retained by immigration authorities. The Lord says, “I was in prison and you visited me.” These are things we will be judged by.

The last words of the King in today’s gospel echo in our conscience: “Whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do for me.” These words should echo in our hearts as we pray “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is through us that his will is done here on earth. We are the hands and feet, the eyes and tongues of the Lord Jesus. It is through us that he says, in the words of the first reading, “I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded, and make the weak strong.”

In another gospel text Jesus told his disciples: “The kings of this world lord it over the people and make their authority felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant. For I did not come to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.”

Lord, forgive us for not seeing you present in the people who needed us. Yes, help us to know that this is how you want us to work for your kingdom here on earth, that you may truly be Lord of all and King of the universe.

Pope Francis has declared today as the Day for World Youth, in preparation for the Youth Day in Rome in 2025. With the title “Rejoicing in hope,” he says, “Hope is based on our certain knowledge of God’s presence among us. … Dear young people, do not be afraid to share with others the hope and joy of the Risen Christ! Nurture the spark that has been enkindled in you, but at the same time share it. You will come to realize that it grows by being given away! Share your Christian hope with your friends who may be smiling on the outside but are weeping within for lack of hope.”
 


 

Robert Chiesa, SJ - November 26, 2023 St Ignatius 12:00

 

 

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