34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe

 Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

Christ the King is a Judge who saves.

 

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:       Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:       Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:          Today’s Scripture Readings revolve around the Last Judgment scene of Jesus Christ coming in glory and power. It was Pope Pius XI who brought the Feast of Christ the King into the liturgy in 1925 to bring Christ as Ruler, and Christian values, back into lives of Christians, into society, and into politics. The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King. We honour Christ as the King of the Universe by enthroning Jesus in our hearts, surrendering our lives to God. This feast challenges us to see Christ the King in everyone, especially those whom our society considers the least important, and to treat each person with the same love, mercy, and compassion Jesus showed.

 

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-12.15-17

 

Introduction to the reading: Ezekiel’s image of the Lord as a shepherd of the sheep is one that Jesus uses on many occasions, even in the vision of the last judgement which Matthew presents to us today.

 

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

“Thus says the Lord God:
Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep,
and will seek them out.
As a shepherd seeks out his flock
when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad,
so will I seek out my sheep;
and I will rescue them from all places
where they have been scattered
on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep,
and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God.
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed,
and I will bind up the crippled,
and I will strengthen the weak,
and the fat and the strong I will watch over;
I will feed them in justice.

“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God:
Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, rams and he-goats.

 

The word of the Lord.

 

 

Responsorial psalm: Psalm 23:1-2a.2b-3.5.6

 

R/: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.

 

Near restful waters he leads me;
he revives my soul.
He guides me along the right path,
for the sake of his name.

 

You have prepared a table before me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow  me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for length of days unending.

 

R/: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26.28

Introduction to the reading: With Christ’s death, death itself is conquered. Now the way is open for all of us to be raised up as members of the kingdom he will hand over to the Father.

 

A reading from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For as by a man came death,
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
But each in his own order:
Christ the first fruits,
then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Then comes the end,
when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father
after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

When all things are subjected to him,
then the Son himself will also be subjected
to him who put all things under him,
that God may be everything to every one.

The Word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!
Alleluia!

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

At that time:
Jesus said to his disciples,
“When the Son of man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Before him will be gathered all the nations,
and he will separate them one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
and he will place the sheep at his right hand,
but the goats at the left.

Then the King will say to those at his right hand,
‘Come, O blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand,
‘Depart from me, you cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
for I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
naked and you did not clothe me,
sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger
or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

Then he will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it not to one of the least of these,
you did it not to me.’

And they will go away into eternal punishment,
but the righteous into eternal life.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian author, wrote a story about “Martin the Cobbler.” Martin, lives in a rural Russian village and  he is bitter with the world from the loss of his wife. He tells a priest, “me and God do not get along anymore”. The priest is asking Martin to make a new cover for a very important holy book, and while Martin does not feel worthy of the job due to his lack of faith, the priest gently prods him to read some of the book and give the job a try.

That night, Martin dreams that our Lord will visit him at work the next day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend, all of whom he helps. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking, “Perhaps tomorrow He will come,” only to hear a voice reply, “I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times.” Christ is a King who goes about in disguise as the poor, the sick, the cripples, the tortured, the marginalized.

And today, the last Sunday of the Church year, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King.

Here is the story of this king of ours.

From the beginning, God continually sought out his people. God invites them into a covenant relationship. This is the covenant: I will be your God and you will be my people. But problems come up. The “shepherds of Israel” should look after  God’s sheep. But sadly, these shepherds let the sheep be scattered over the face of the earth. They actually made meals of the sheep instead of feeding them. So God said the words of the First Reading, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. The injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.”

God’s care for his people is exquisite, and it is the foundation of all our belief. He shepherds us today in the same way.

Psalm 23 has the beautiful image, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” One Sunday at catechism, the teacher who decided to have her young class memorize Psalm 23 and gave them a month to do so. Little Joe, one the boys in the class, was very excited about the task but he just couldn’t remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the whole congregation, Rick was very nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped to the microphone and said proudly, “The Lord is my shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.”

In many respects, little Joe got it. All we really need to know is that the Lord is our shepherd. And that he cares for us. When we pray the psalm – the Lord is my shepherd, we see that God is shepherding us, as he promised. Goodness and kindness are given abundantly. God lets us walk beside restful waters, through green pastures.” We are filled with gratitude.

This year has been the year of the Coronavirus – the year of the pandemic. We all had differing experiences when we were in strict lockdown. Sometimes we remembered God’s love and sometimes we forgot God’s love. The ones who forgot God’s love filled their lives with other gods, whichever seemed most attractive. Idols, these are called.

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he told them about Christ, who is God’s shepherding made flesh. Death and sorrow and sin have been on the rampage in the world. But Christ will rescue the sheep from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.

“The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,” – this is Christ talking to us today.

Then the parable in the Gospel tells us who will receive this light and peace. Not everyone can be counted among God’s beloved sheep. Some people have been goats instead.

How do you know which you are? The standard is extremely clear. Have you cared for the hungry? Have you given water to the thirsty? What about welcoming the stranger, and giving clothes to those who have none and what about visiting people in prison? This is what God did in the time of Ezekiel. It is what Jesus did in his life on earth. It is the loving duty he has entrusted to us who are his body, his band of shepherds. If you have joined this group, then you are one of the sheep who have received Christ’s love and who are very grateful.

But maybe you or I have never taken time to care for Christ’s least brother or sister. Maybe we are goats.

If we keep on that way, we should not be surprised when God says at the end of time,  You never did pass on to others the care I gave to you. You did not let me into their lives. If you had, your gratitude for my love would have led you to them! I care to shepherd you even now, but all I can do is affirm the choice you have made with your life. You have chosen to live without me, your God, and I must respect your choice.

Jesus is describing the Final Judgment today. What is shocking for us is that judgment is not about faith. It not about crying our Lord, Lord,   – I believe, I believe. The king will be judging us in terms of love.

Love.

Loving our neighbour, forgiving enemies and caring for those who are hungry, thirsty, in need, or in prison. Jesus, our King, has freed and enabled us to do as he did. Remember, at our baptism we were anointed with Sacred Chrism which means we share in Christ’s priestly ministry, his prophetic ministry and in in kingly ministry. We ask ourselves, how can we act as King Jesus did, so that people will know our King lives.

A real King respects and honours his subjects’ needs and desires. We have to ask ourselves in freedom which side we are on right now.

Before it is too late.

‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it not to one of the least of these,
you did it not to me.’

With the gospel-inspired eyes we focus our gaze on the King in whose dominion we are subjects. Today’s gospel tells us what priorities the King’s servants are to have and how we are to live – feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting prisoners.

So we ask ourselves:

  • In what needy person did I see Christ in disguise recently?
  • What did I do about what I saw?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          The Lord has spoken to us through the word in the scriptures. We now speak in our own words to the Lord in our prayers of intercession.

 

Reader:

We pray for Pope Francis and all leaders in the Church: (pause) that they may set out clearly and fearlessly the teachings of the Gospel.

LORD HEAR US

 

We remember all those who hold political authority in our country: (pause) that they may be guided by the common good and by the requirements of justice.

LORD HEAR US

 

We call to mind all those places in the world where there is conflict, war and violence;  (pause) we ask for the gift of perseverance for those who are working to bring about peace and mutual understanding in such areas.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are combating the coronavirus: (pause) that God will bring healing to the sick, strength to their caregivers, and wisdom to those researching cures.
LORD HEAR US

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for all the faithful departed on the Pious Lists.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Fr Emil Blaser, Gina Borges and Chantal Correia who died this week.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

 

And let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  AMEN

 

Leader:          Let us pray the prayer to live the Gospel:

 

Loving Father,

Open our hearts to hidden realities: your love for all people, your presence in the community, your call to justice and peace. May the sacraments stir in us that same love for those with whom we worship and all members of our human family.

 

Christ Jesus,

Help us to imitate your example: healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, assisting the poor and vulnerable. May the sacraments remind us of your love and self-giving, which we strive to imitate.

 

Holy Spirit,

Make visible to our eyes what is invisible: your call to your people, your summons to live our faith daily as witnesses of justice and peace. May the sacraments move us to engage in love-inspired action that transforms us and the world.

Amen.

 

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus,
I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment,
feed my soul at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
Amen.

 

 

  

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:           Almighty and eternal God,

you chose to restore all things in Christ your Son,

who is king of heaven and earth.

Grant that all creation,

set free from the bondage of sin and death,

may offer homage to your majesty

and join in singing your eternal praise.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

 

Blessing

 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                  Amen.