With great solemnity, the Holy Church celebrates the Universal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the King, who reigns as the ideal king of the whole universe, and who will sit on the throne of judgement. In the Old Testament, God shared his role of shepherding and kingship over his people, with the kings of Israel and Judah, to be the sacrament of his reign and fatherhood, but instead of taking care of God’s people, they abused their office. The kings of Israel betrayed their mission. They did not promote a just society of brotherhood in accordance with God’s plan. Rather, they enriched themselves at the expense of the people, and eventually, the people were scattered into exile. For that reason, God will personally take care of his own flock as the good shepherd. God himself will lead his own people. He will judge aright and see that justice and righteousness prevail (see Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has already come to make us children of God, and to reveal the Father’s love for us, so that we can truly live as his children. He promised to come again, in which he will judge the living and the dead. For that fact, the gospel gives us the picture of the final judgement that will accompany the Parousia or the “Second Coming of Christ.” Here, the Son of Man, who will come in his glory, is depicted as a Shepherd-King, while the righteous and the wicked are presented as sheep and goats\ respectively (Matthew 25:32-33). The criterion for judgement will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for “the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters.”
In the gospel of today, the sinner, is on trial. We are reminded that the day of reckoning must surely come. It is important for us to get ready to answer to the charges that will be brought against us at the end of time. Today, Matthew has unveiled what these eschatological, or end-time charges would be. We have to get ready to spend the rest of our lives preparing to answer these charges, since we know that the things we do in life have a bearing on the outcome of our final judgement.
It will be a court of the last instant. The judgement is final, without any further appeals. It will be a closed case. The accused persons know the basis or the norms of judgement. They are told about the exhibits admitted into evidence against or in their favor, for instance, giving food or not giving food to the hungry, as well as other corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Those on the right, the sheep are blessed, while those on the left, the goats, are accursed.
It is only Jesus who can acquit or convict anyone, but not until he has sat on his judgement throne at the end. The only thing that matters is love, which is the repetition of that love that Our Lord Jesus showed when he carried the cross to save the world and to make us children of God. It is on the basis of this love that we shall hear the final verdict: “come, you are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:34-40).”
These acts of love must be done for the sake of Christ and only for his love. They must not be motivated by some other reasons or for political gains. The love of Jesus means replicating his life and love with ours, and conforming into his image and likeness. The one who loves Jesus imitates his life, death and resurrection. That is why St. Paul speaks to us about Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. We must follow him, who through his resurrection, has countered death that came through Adam. Just as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will come to life again, but each one in proper order: Christ the first-fruits and then, at his coming, all those who belong to him.