The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Sunday, November 26, 2017
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

     This week I had an interesting discussion with someone, and the main question we talk about what this:  How did Christianity ever get to the point where so many are almost obsessed with who gets saved?  A few weeks ago there was the 500th anniversary of the reformation, and reading about it, the big issue then was the conditions needed to get saved.  Some churches today seem able to declare with infallibility who is saved and who is not.  And we see an increasing number of college students whose main question about faith is what they need to do to get to heaven.

     Much of this seems like spiritual narcissism to me.  What do I need to do, or say, or believe so that I can get something?  This misses much of the Gospel, which is not so much focused in getting to heaven, but bringing heaven to earth.  Today's Gospel in particular suggests that the main way we get saved is by saving others.  At the core of the authentic Christian life is not what we get, but what we give.

     This Gospel is well known.  It is clear that at the end of our lives, God judges us.  I know this runs contrary to the common presumption today that everyone goes to heaven.  But Scripture is clear:  God will judge each of us, even those who think there is no judgment at all.

     In a closer reading of the Gospel, notice how God is not judging individuals but nations.  Nations are assembled before him, and he separates one nation from another.  It would be a great late night conversation to think about the judgment God will make of the United States versus Ireland versus Uganda versus Vietnam.  That would be an interesting discussion.

     This judgment of the Lord is a purgatory like experience, where our lives are revealed to us in way we never fully see in this life.  The impact of our lives on others will be revealed to us.  The core sin in this Gospel is the sin of omission, what we did not do for the least of our sisters and brothers.

     Note too that our goodness is also revealed to us in a way we never fully see in this life.  The core virtue is to help the vulnerable, to reach out to the little people of our world.  What we do for them, we do for Jesus himself.  And this too comes as a surprise.

     This Gospel tells us that our concern for those in need has to go beyond writing a check or signing a petitions, as important as those are.  We have to get personally involved, get our hands dirty, and enter into the messiness of another's life.

     I applaud those who do this so well in our parish:  Love Your Neighbor interviewers, those who take Communion to people in the hospital, those who visit the Story county jail, and those who reach out to people in care centers.

     I applaud those who do this in our community:  Those who help at Food at First and the Emergency Residence Project, those who reach out to the addicted and lonely in our midst, and those who welcome the stranger, whether that is the immigrant next door, an international student a long way from home, or even someone who sits alone at coffee and donuts.

     I applaud those whose careers are all about service and not profit.  People like nurses and teachers and EMTs and many others, who are not well compensated by our society but whose reward is great in heaven.

     I especially applaud parents who live this Gospel 24/7.  Parents who daily feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty and clothe the naked.  What you do for your children, you do for Jesus himself.

     Today's feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday of our Church year.  We end our year focused on the end of our lives, and the judgment which follows.  Our Gospel moves us away from spiritual narcissism, this obsession with getting saved.  The authentic Christian life is not really about what we get, but what we give.  The Lord is clear:  We get saved not by focusing on ourselves.  We get saved by saving others.