Loving With Our Hearts

Christ The King

Ez 34: 11-12, 15-17; 1 Cor 15: 20-26, 28; Mt 25: 31-46

Dc. Larry Brockman

The other day, while I was at Health Central Hospital helping the Chaplain in the emergency room, I stopped by the fountain for a drink of water.  .A little girl was there right after me, and try as she could, she couldn’t get a drink, she was just too short.  So, without giving it a thought, I lifted her up and turned the fountain on for her.  .She smiled, scurried away, and I heard her Mom thank me from across the waiting room.  I didn’t really think about it again until I started to prepare this homily.  But, after hearing the Gospel, I truly believe the incident spoke much to me about the Last Judgment. 

 For the last couple of weeks, Jesus talked in parables about being ready for the Last Judgment.  The emphasis was on preparation.  Last week, we were told that we all need to be servants who exercise good stewardship of the gifts, or talents, that God has given us.   Now, we have been given a lifetime to accomplish this task,  So, the message is, that whether our lifetime is short or long, we need to take the steps needed to use our talents prudently in the service of God while we have the time. 

The week before, we were told that we need to be ready to shine the light of Christ constantly in our lives because there is no predicting when we will die and be called to the Last Judgment.  To do that, we need oil for our lamps to light the way.  And we get the oil by being ready and prepared- no procrastinating, no hiding our sins, no negativity is permissible.  We have to be proactive and ready at all times.

 For several weeks before these two Gospels, we heard about the Kingdom of God itself- what it was; and what it was not.  Jesus’ descriptions of it are summed up by his metaphor of the lightning flash.  We see flashes, or glimpses of the Kingdom once and a while in the beauty of nature, a child’s words, or a conversation with another.  It is described as a feeling of great joy in all the parables.  That after all, is our hope- a joyful life ever after in the Kingdom of God.  All of us want that.  So, what is missing in our lives?

Well today, on the Feast of Christ the King, we are told in no uncertain terms, that unless we follow the golden rule, that is, “Love our neighbor as ourselves”, we will not enter the Kingdom of God.. The Old Testament Reading and Gospel both bring up the image of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats.  The separation is permanent- not just temporary.  The sheep go to heaven; the goats to hell.  So, what are we to make of this severe language?  Well, if we have done what we can to always shine the light of Christ; and if we have recognized and used the talents that God gave us to serve God, then the last thing that he demands of us is simplicity of heart in loving one another.  That, after all is what he is talking about here.  We do that by sharing our food and water; sharing our wealth, whatever it is; visiting the sick and imprisoned, and in general, by being present for various folks in need as if it was second nature to us. 

 This idea of simplicity of heart in loving one another in this way leaped out at me when I read the Gospel because it was then that I remembered the little girl and the fountain.  .God had given me that experience to help me understand this Gospel lesson.  We will not be judged on how much we know; how famous we are; how much money we gave away; how well we are regarded; or any of a number of other areas of greatness by man’s standards.  We will be judged on how we learned the lesson of being kind and loving and present to everyone and anyone that God puts into our lives- even the ones we see by accident or happenstance.  And not only that, this attitude of kindness needs to be second nature to us, not contrived. 

 This, it seems to me, is why Ezekiel talks so severely about the sheep that are “sleek and strong”.  Because if you are independent, strong, and totally in control at all times, then you are not listening to the shepherd and so, you won’t follow him- you are bent on doing your own thing.  We need to recognize our shepherd, Jesus, and move towards him like it is second nature to us. 

 What is interesting about this is how amazingly simple it is.  It is something all of us can do, to love, as well as we can, everyone we meet out of simplicity of the heart.  They are all God’s children; and Jesus is in all of them. 

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