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WORD FOR MISSION
Missionary reflection  on Sunday Liturgy

Every week EUNTES.NET offers to lay, religious people and priests an itinerary of reflections on the Sunday Liturgy in a missionary prespective. These are elements for a missionary meditation, individual or in community, on the Word of God , which constantly and surprisingly continues to enlighten, strengthen and sustain the missionary journey of the Church, for the life of the World

Stake everything on charity: “you did it to me!”

Christ the King – Sunday XXXIV

Year A - Sunday 20.11.2011

 

Ezekiel  34,11-12.15-17

Psalm  22

1Corinthians  15:20-26.28

Matthew  25:31-46

 

Reflections

The Word of God on the feast of Christ the King comes to us on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, and has an evident unifying sense of recapitulation, sweeping over the past, the present and the future of individuals and of all human history. They are the ‘ages’ of the saving presence of Christ, who is always “Emmanuel” – God-with-us: He appeared at Bethlehem in human flesh (Mt. 1:23), he walks with us in our everyday lives (Mt. 28:20), and he will come at the final stage as our king-shepherd and judge (Gospel). His presence is always marked by love; it brings us comfort in suffering and gives us reason to hope, even as we await the final judgement. That final moment is described in today’s Gospel in words of terrifying severity (v. 41-46), that nevertheless are not in  contrast to the good Jesus, the friend of tax-collectors and sinners(Lk.7:34), who became man to “Seek that which was lost” (Lk. 9:10). Matthew symbolically places, right after the great scene of the judgement, a Jesus who “will be handed over to be crucified” (Mt. 26:2).

 

Jesus, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (Jn. 10) makes real the project of God, king-shepherd, of whom Ezekiel (1st. Reading) express the concerned love for the sheep: he seeks them, he rescues them, keeps them all in view, tends to the injured, leads them to pasture... The Psalm then sings of the feeling of security and happiness given by having the shepherd nearby (Responsorial Psalm). And Paul (2nd Reading) affirms that all ills, including death, will be overcome.

 

According to biblical and non-biblical literature (Dn. 7) regarding the judgement scenes, the aim is not to describe what will happen, but to teach how to behave in the present. Rather than information about the future, it is a programme for living in the present! In the light of the final judgement, Jesus reveals the quality our actions must have; He teaches us how to lead our lives so that we do not fall into constant error, but discover the right path. The only path is His: love of and service to those in need. “In the evening of life, we will be judged by our love” states St. John of the Cross.

 

Love for the least of all opens the gates of the Kingdom of God. “Come, you whom my Father has blessed...” (v. 34). Jesus points out the way decisively. For four times he lists six acts of love towards those in need: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, those in prison. To help these people is the task of every Christian and part of the daily work of missionaries, and indeed of the followers of all religions. These acts of love constitute a common ground with all people of good will. A list of these works is found in Isaiah 58:6-7, but as long ago as the second millennium BC the Book of the Dead (ch. 125) of ancient Egypt attributes these words to a dead person: “I have done what pleases the gods. I have given bread to the hungry, I have given water to the thirsty, I have clothed the naked, and I have offered a passage to those who had no boat”. Jesus brings a decisive new point to these works: He identifies himself with the weakest and the smallest, to the point of saying “you did it to me” (v. 40). The least are really the chosen recipients of the options of the Lord. Therefore, the preferential option for the poor is not an alternative to be taken or left; it is an obligation for the Church, as John Paul II affirmed powerfully towards the end of his life, inviting the Christians to “stake everything on charity.” In this option the very fidelity of the Church to her Lord is on the line. (*)

 

It is perhaps the missionary witness of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who was deeply convinced of the presence of Christ in the poor among whom he chose to live, the desert Bedouins, all Moslems. Only a few weeks before his death he wrote: “I believe that there is no other saying in the Gospel that has struck and transformed my life more than this: ‘whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do to me. If you think that these are the words of the uncreated Truth, the words of the mouth that said ‘This is my Body.... This is my Blood’, with what force is one driven to seek and love Jesus in these little ones, sinners, poor.” Charles, the universal brother, was able to recognise the presence of Christ equally in the Eucharist as in the poor, including non-Christians. He was a true missionary witness.

 

 

The Pope's words

(*)  “We must learn to see Christ especially in the faces of those with whom he himself wished to be identified: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you… I was a stranger… I was naked… I was sick… I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25:35-36). This Gospel text is not a simple invitation to charity: it is a page of Christology which sheds a ray of light on the mystery of Christ. By these words, no less than by the orthodoxy of her doctrine, the Church measures her fidelity as the Bride of Christ… As the unequivocal words of the Gospel remind us, there is a special presence of Christ in the poor, and this requires the Church to make a preferential option for them”.

John Paul II

Novo Millennio Ineunte (2001), n. 49

 In the steps of Missionaries

- 20/11: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe.
- 20/11: International Day for the Rights of Children, established by UNO in 1989.
- 21/11: Presentation of Mary in the Temple. – (Today or on another day). Also a day of prayer for the enclosed religious of contemplative life.
- 22/11: Solemnity of O. L. Jesus Christ, King of the universe.
- 22/11: St. Cecilia, Roman martyr. - International Music Day.
- 23/11: St. Colombanus, abbot (+615), born in Ireland, itinerant missionary in France, Switzerland and Italy, founder of numerous monasteries.
- 23/11: Bl. Michael Augustine Pro (1891-1927), Mexican Jesuit, martyred during the persecution of the Church. Together with him are remembered many martyrs of the same period.
- 24/11: St. Andrew Dung Lac (+1839), priest, and various other companions who were martyred in Vietnam. John Paul II in 1988 canonised 117 of them: bishops, priests and laypeople killed at different places, ways and times.
24/11: Bl. Peter Kibe Kasui (1587-1639), Japanese Jesuit, and 187 martyred companions, killed between 1603 and 1639; of them four were priests and all the others laypeople, among whom also some women and children. This third group of Japanese martyrs (after those of 1597 and 1622) were beatified at Nagasaki on 24 November 2008.
- 26/11: St. Leonard of Porto Maurizio (1676-1751), an itinerant Franciscan priest who preached missions to the people. He set up the devotion of the Way of the Cross.
- 26/11: Bl. James Alberione (1884-1971), Founder of the Pauline Family (around 10 institutes) to make the Gospel more present in the means of Social Communication, and for the fostering of vocations.
- 26/11: Memory of Cardinal Charles Lavigerie (1825-1892), French Bishop of Algiers, and Founder of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers).

 

*** Service information ***
- After more than two complete liturgical cycles (ABC + ABC, from 2005 to the present day), it is good to have an interruption about this weekly service of homilies. Later on we may start again, including some improvements and whatever else we may wish.
- The work of these years, however, that is the homilies in the different languages, is kept in the archives of the website:  www.euntes.net  which can be visited any time, as it is available to anyone wishing to make use of it.
- The service in the various foreign languages is discontinued, then, but I will continue to publish homilies in the mentioned website, and in other sites, but only the Italian text, updated and with some additions.
- Thanks to you all my friends who, week after week, have followed and encouraged us in this missionary service.
- We say a very special THANK YOU, from me and from all of you, to the translators who, in a professional, punctual, loyal and free way, have provided a qualified missionary service!
 
Grazie-Danke-Gracias-Merci-Obrigado-Thanks!
 
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Compiled by Fr. Romeo.Ballan, MCCJ – Comboni Missionaries (Verona)
Translated by Fr. Henry Redaelli, MCCJ
Website: www.euntes.net “The Word for Mission
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