Christ the King – 22nd November
As we near the end of the Church’s liturgical year we are called to remember the four last things: death, judgement, heaven and hell. This is something which is seldom preached on and when it is memories of those who recall the Redemptorist mission can remember people having the fear of God-driven home. There can be a sense in which this reality needs to be reflected upon as it shapes who we seek to become in life. Rather than a fear of future reward or punishment, a greater emphasis is placed on how we are present to God in this present moment. This is not an exercise in just receiving enough credits in life to outweigh our debts rather it is the orientation that we seek our life to take.
In the readings for the day we see six of the seven corporal works of mercy: clothe the naked, feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and befriend those in prison. The seventh relates to praying for the dead. What they sum up are not a to-do list but rather a disposition of heart which sees the needs of those around us who are made in the image and likeness of God. It recognises that our spirituality is incarnate. How we seek to be present to others especially those in greatest need reflect on how we see God present in the world. We are called to be people of faith, hope and love not just in our prayers but also in our actions.
The focus is always on the person which proceeds the action. In this way, we do not marginalise the person by their need but rather we restore their dignity to be in right relationship with the whole community. We acknowledge that we are called to see in the other, especially those who are on the margins, the face of Christ. This comes not through an obligation placed upon on us but rather who we seek to become. In this becoming, our actions flow naturally out of a lived expression of our prayer. Our hearts, minds and our bodies unite to attend the needs of the poorest within our community.
The heart of a community is shaped by how we treat the poorest within our society rather than how we reward the most successful. In caring for each person, we seek their fundamental worth not just their utility. In this way, we build up a culture of life which builds the realm of God in our own time. This is by asking the fundamental question who will I be when I die?
Fr. John Armstrong