Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Happy happy Solemnity, friends! It's the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
Now that's a name for a holiday.
And of course, on this holiday, this final Sunday of the year, right before we get ready for Advent and the preparation for our Lord's coming at Christmas, we get a reading which, if it didn't make you uncomfortable, you probably didn't really read it. Jesus, towards the end of his public ministry, is preparing those who are following him for the end of the world; more directly, he's preparing them for his time on earth coming to an end.
The image that we get is of a judge; a good judge, a just judge, but a judge. This judge – the Lord – sits on the throne, separating the sheep from the goats, the one from the other, and sending each to their eternal home. And what does that separation rely on?
Of course, in practical terms, there is some clear action on the part of the people involved in the Lord's separation of people on this judgment day. Did you feed the poor? Did you clothe the naked? Shelter the homeless? Visit the imprisoned? Give drink to the thirsty?
If the answer is yes, you are righteous, and you get your reward of eternal life; if it's no, then you go to eternal punishment. I don't want to gloss over this, because it's important. The Lord is telling us something very clearly: we need to respond to his love for us by the way that we treat others, especially those most in need. If we won't, then we will receive the consequences.
Why is this the Gospel on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe?
In 2020, it's actually pretty hard for a lot of us to get this, I think. We've been trained, both by the world and even by a lot of well-meaning people in the Church, to believe that sin, death, and hell are not real things. We've been trained to believe that it's impossible to end up there. We've been trained to whitewash sin as something that God wouldn't really punish us for, and assume that everyone is in heaven.
Jesus, though, in the Gospel today, is very clear: Hell is real, and there is the chance of us going to eternal punishment. It's really important that we know that! We need to know that Hell, sin, and death are real so that we don't think we have it all together. We need to know that we are broken and sinful people so that we can truly appreciate the Good News: our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, died so that death could no longer reign. In Him, we have victory over sin and death and all that comes against us; in Him, we have true hope of eternal life.
And so today, on this great feast day, let us enthrone the Lord of the universe in our hearts and our lives for He is worthy of the place of honor. Let us receive His love, shown so perfectly on the cross, and in response to that love let us pour ourselves out in love for each and every person that we meet. The King of the Universe is the Good Shepherd who hunts down each member of his flock that goes astray; may we allow ourselves to be brought back into the fold each time we go away, and in the Shepherd may we find our true and lasting home.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
Do you believe that Hell is real? Don't just quickly answer this, really pray with it.
How do you show Christ your love for Him?
Are you living out the works of mercy?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Christ the King."
"King of the Universe."
"Help me find my lasting home."
Step #5: Actio / Act
Celebrate Christ the King today. Spend extra time in prayer. Drop food off at your food pantry. Go to confession. Today is a great feast day, have an extra dessert or do something special to celebrate.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald, Executive Director of Carpe Verbum.