To be Catholic means entering into a personal relationship with Christ. It is a matter…
Opening the Word: The poor kingship of Jesus
The aftershocks of election 2020 reverberate throughout the United States. Whatever presidential candidate will be inaugurated in January 2021– and this column has been written well before the results have been tabulated — will be greeted by many with fanfare.
The solemnity of Christ the King should be an occasion for us, the Catholic Church in the United States, to remember a power that transcends the party politics of a polarized nation.
Over the past three weeks, we have been reading from Matthew 25. The chapter concludes with the parable of the sheep and the goats.
|November 22 – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe|
Ez 34:11-12, 15-17
Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
1 Cor 15:20-26, 28
Jesus describes the final judgment of the nations as akin to a shepherd distinguishing between sheep and goats. The sheep are placed on the right, while the goats are put on the left.
The sheep are the righteous ones, who cared for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, those without a home and those in prison.
The goats are the unrighteous ones, who did nothing for those on the margins.
But the sheep and the goats share something significant in common. Both did not recognize the presence of Christ in those in need. The righteous ones cared for the hidden Christ, while the unrighteous did not. Christ was concealed from sight through the poverty of the human condition. To care for the least of these is to worship Our Lord.
What a strange kingdom inaugurated by Christ the King. It is not those feted with pomp and circumstance on inauguration day who are the hidden presence of Jesus Christ.
The presence of Christ is made manifest in the hungry man, begging for food on the corner of your street.
In the homeless mother, trying to raise her kids in a shelter.
In the terrified kid, separated from her parents on the border of the country.
In the unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb, expunged by a culture of
death that cannot see every life as a gift.
Welcome, dear friends, to the reign of Christ the King. It is the least among us, those on the margins, who should be the focus of our politics.
If we are dissatisfied with the results of this election, of our polarized politics defined by wealth more than justice, what do we do as Catholics?
First, let us remember that this nation is not the kingdom of God. We possess as those baptized into Christ, a citizenship among the saints. We are sojourners, engaging in the world, and yet aware that the halls of power are not the ultimate meaning of history. Christ reigns not from the Oval Office but the wood of the cross.
Second, we must also remember that national elections are not the only way of engaging as religious people in the public sphere. The kingdom of God is governed by justice, peace and mercy. And that reign of God begins in your parish.
We can love the poor among us, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, fight for the unborn and speak out against racism without possessing the office of the president. We will be judged by these actions.
Third, we must also remember that our political leaders will be especially judged by whether they remember the least among us. We must hold them accountable, stand as Christ’s prophetic and royal voice against their adoration of power above self-gift.
To profess Christ as king of the world means that no politician can be exempt from being measured against the self-giving love of the Word made flesh.
Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.