As the Liturgical Year-A comes to a conclusion, the Word of God of this Sunday of the Solemnity of Christ, The King of the Universe, brings us one of the most consoling expressions found in Ezekiel: “I Myself will search for My sheep”. Yes, Jesus will seek His sheep out, will rescue those who are scattered in clouds and thick darkness, will bind up the injured, will strengthen the weak, will make them lie down to rest. The Lord God, our Shepherd-King, thus, promises to save us. What an encouraging expression!
But then our Shepherd-King also warns that He will judge between one sheep & another, between rams & goats. This clearly reminds us of the two types of Judgements which will be awaiting us all.
The first one – the Particular Judgement – occurs when we cross the threshold of this temporary life into the endless corridors of eternity. At that moment the last opportunity to make of ourselves what we want to be forever has passed. We stand before God with our entire history, of merits as well as failures. And there we are judged by the Shepherd-King of the Universe. This has been pretty well expressed by a couple of Councils, for example, by that of Florence in 1445 and earlier by that of Lyons in 1274.
The second one – the General Judgement (as depicted by Michelangelo on vault of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican), occurs within the context of the Resurrection of the Dead at the end of time. The Sacred Scripture revels this Judgement clearly. In fact, today’s Gospel passage is an example. Besides, belief in the General Judgement is part of the Creed we recite at Sunday Mass.
However, we need to stress that the relationship between these Judgements is especially mysterious. But we know in faith that judgment (mine/yours) will be individual/personal as well as cosmic/universal. To minimize the importance of the particular judgment would be to minimize each person’s individual responsibility before God. Likewise, to play down the general judgement would be to downplay one’s responsibility to find Christ in his/her neighbour and all humankind – a duty dramatically highlighted in today’s Gospel.
Dear brethren, let us not get unnecessarily worried about what is going to happen to us. Instead let us know for sure that Jesus as The King is clearly coming to us in every person in need. He has 6 needs: 3 are external (food, water, and clothing) and 3 are internal (loneliness, illness, and imprisonment). The needy are our own family, our parish community, the neighbour next door, children, youth, widowed, separated & divorced, new immigrants, those without jobs, those addicted, unborn babies, the sick & handicapped & the elderly, and so on. All that Jesus The King wants from us is that we see in the needy persons Him/Jesus and serve Him/Jesus in them. If we do this, then, there is nothing to be afraid of, for Jesus The King will say to us: “Come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the beginning”. So shall it be!
Happy Feast of Christ The King!
Fr Saga (Pastor).