And so, we have arrived at the end of the Church’s Liturgical Year as this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, the last Sunday in Ordinary Time.
“Like climbing to the top of Mt. Everest, today’s gospel reading is the pinnacle of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospel of Matthew. This is not a parable, but instead the interpretive key to Jesus’ teachings earlier in the gospel… This story also foreshadows his … promise in the closing line of the gospel, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20).
Jesus’ promise to be with us always is fulfilled in that he is present in the hungry, thirsty, naked, ill, imprisoned, and in the stranger. Though some who claim to know Jesus are surprised that they did not see him in the face of the poor, this is to their own perdition. Even more, those who did not or do not know Jesus receive their heavenly reward precisely because they did the will of God; they fed the hungry and in so doing they were feeding Jesus. They gave drink to the thirsty and in so doing they were giving drink to Jesus. Jesus does not say that it is as though he is present in these people. No, he is them: “I was hungry and you gave me no food.” “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” Again, Jesus does not say, “It’s as though you did not do for me.” He identifies with the poor and the lowly, for he is them.
There are no excuses on the part of those who claim to have known Jesus. They cannot say that the poor were not working, or they deserved to be poor, or they should get a job. Those who claim to know Jesus but have not acted on behalf of the poor are sent off to eternal punishment. “Depart from me, you accursed.” We now see clearly how not everyone who cries Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom, but only those who do the will of my father (7:21-23). Indeed, this chapter and this particular teaching is at the root of the Catholic Church’s “social gospel.” It is why the church established hospitals, schools, food pantries, social services, and so many other ministries. Faith in action, rather than faith alone, is the church’s credo. And it is not enough to rely on others, the church at large, to perform this ministry. It is the obligation of anyone who dares to call himself or herself a disciple of Christ. Indeed, those who do not know Christ but still perform these actions will inherit eternal life. These sober words conclude Jesus’ teaching ministry and are a clarion call to all who would seek to follow him.” (Living Liturgy 2020)
I wish to thank Henry Wegiel who spoke at all the Masses last Sunday about the One Heart, One Soul Campaign taking place in our Diocese. I hope this testimonial provided more details about the ongoing campaign and also encouraged us to see the care of the parish as a responsibility that has been entrusted to all of us.
Last Sunday I briefly mentioned at the end of Masses that we are gradually preparing for Christmas celebrations in the midst of the COVID storm around us. We must make these preparations hoping and praying that we will be able to have in-person Christmas celebrations. Please know that if you wish to attend a Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you will need to reserve a Mass for yourself and those who are attending with you either by calling or emailing the parish office or using our online registration system that should be available starting this Sunday. This will not reserve you a specific seat in the church – seating will be first come first serve from front to back as it is being done now, only for those who have registered in advance. I apologize for this inconvenience, but we must follow the restrictions placed upon us by health officials that limit our church’s compacity to 30%.
The Season of Advent begins next Sunday. Advent, as we know, is a season for preparation. Amid the physical preparations for Christmas, we must also prepare spiritually for the feast of Christ’s nativity. Pease visit our parish bulletin to see the invitation to participate in an online Advent Retreat that will last 26 days, free of charge and led by Chris Stefanick, who visited our parish a few years ago, and also by Fr. Cantalamessa, now a cardinal, who has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household during the time of the last 3 Popes.
As always, for those who are not currently able to attend Mass in person, you can click here to access the live-stream of the 9:00am Sunday morning Mass.