November 26, 2017
The Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feast of Christ the King
Ezekiel 34: 11 - 16; 20-24 / Psalm 95: 1 – 7
1 Corinthians 15: 21 – 28 / Matthew 25: 31 - 40
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
Jesus is our King, our Lord and our Shepherd. The theme for today says that we are inheritors, in plural form, of the Kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Before we existed, God already prepared the Kingdom for us. What we need to do is also prepare for this Kingdom – which God prepared for us. The Kingdom started pure and good, but it was corrupted and tainted by sin. Now, there’s poverty, lack sickness, captivity, bondage. All the peoples of the earth are enslaved by sin, and even if man did something against God’s will, God still loves man, and share in his suffering. He is in the hungry, in the thirsty, in the stranger, in the naked, the sick, the prisoner, and the poor. Christ our King is on those people who are suffering. He is inside, not outside. He is not detached, but going through their struggles with them.
We sing this Easter Song “Christ is Alive” and one line goes, “In every insult, rift and war, where sorrow, scorn and wealth divide, He suffers still.” With those who are victims of injustice, those who are bullied or victims of racism, Jesus suffers through their experiences. It is wrong to ask when we are going through a struggle or an experience, “Where are you, God?” God is with us through all and we can pull through what we have because He is with us together. He says, “I will be with you in sickness, in health, through thick and thin, through good and bad.” The song continues to say, “Until all creation lives and learns His joy, His justice, His love and His grace. Until the restoration of all things and everyone experiences His peace, His love, and obeys Him and sin is no more and death is no more.”
In the meantime, He goes through our struggles with us and fights with us. He is in a warfare, not with violence, but as the Book of Revelations says, Christ the King smites nations. He abolishes rule, authority, and power and anything that destroys the goodness of His creation. Don’t think of violence because God doesn't pay evil for evil or demands an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. He strikes the nation with His sword. His sword is the word that comes out from His mouth. It is sharp two-edged sword, the Word of God. This sword pierces through our hearts with God saying, “Your sins are forgiven. Neither do I condemn you.” After restoring us, He says, “Now sin no more. Now, love your enemies, accept one another, bless and do not curse.”
We will reign with Christ by serving Him. He doesn’t change. He came not to be served, but to serve. He wants us to reign with Him by serving. Revelations 21 says that in the kingdom of God, nothing is unclean. No impure being will enter the kingdom of God. We need to prepare ourselves by purifying ourselves just as Christ is pure. The best way to purify ourselves in the kingdom of God is by being one Body; being in unity just like the Godhead. In doing so, we purify ourselves of ourselves. We purify self of self. We think Body. We think of Church. We think of family of God. It is not just individuals.
We will march to our Church property, to our Promised Land together as one man. We will wait for one another in solidarity. We will carry the weak, and we will proceed to the property together because we are members on one another. We are one Body, and we will walk toward the property together in oneness, solidarity, carry weak, and we will march together. Three years ago, God revealed to us that we were on the verge of entering the Promised Land. Thank God for His faithfulness, and for the faithfulness of those who said “yes” to Him, we got our property after two years.
I used to work in a fast food chain where there is a rule that we can’t punch out unless all the crew members are finished with their task. So, it would be to one’s interest to help one another so that all could leave the premises together. One crew member did not do this, but instead told the supervisor of his co-worker’s slowness. The supervisor said, “Ang mabagal ay hindi hinihiya. Ang mabagal ay hindi tinuya. Ang mabagal ay tinutulungan.” We enter God rest together. It would be to our interest that we carry the weak. We need to help each other. We are one Body. We are one family of God.
The writer of Hebrews shares in chapter eleven how that after the heroes of faith went through all their accomplishments and were approved for their faith, they did not receive what was promised. God has prepared something better for all of us so that apart from us, these heroes of faith would not reach their goal. We all enter God rest together. We are inheritors. We can strive for holiness, and this is good, but we cannot be an inheritor alone. We are all inheritors of the kingdom of God.
We rebuke and speak out of love. We need to be firm to those who need it, but many of us had taken on and think we are called to the ministry of anger, rebuke, evaluation and judgment. We need to stop evaluating, and start helping. Bind up the broken hearted. Free the prisoners. Comfort those who mourn. All the peoples of the earth are enslaved by sin and they need to be freed. This is the ministry of Christ the King. Anger is not fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus got angry and He rebuked, but His heart was pure. Mostly, His heart was gentle, kind, and edifying. His ministry is laid out in Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to bind up the broken hearted, to free prisoners, to comfort those who mourn, and give them joy instead of ashes.” Correction has a place but we need to be edifying. It doesn’t matter who sinned. We forgive, but sometimes we are reluctant to forgive. Accept one another just as Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, accepted us in our sinfulness because kindness is a fruit of Spirit and patience is a character of love.
I love this Tagalog version of Ephesians 4:29, 31-32 Salita Ng Diyos, “29 Huwag ninyong pabayaang mamutawi sa inyong mga bibig ang anumang bulok na salita. Subalit kung mayroon man, ay mamutawi yaong mabuti na kagamit-gamit sa ikatitibay upang ito ay makapagbigay biyaya sa nakikinig. 31 Alisin ninyo ang lahat ng sama ng loob, galit, poot, sigawan, panlalait at lahat ng uri ng masamang hangarin. 32 Maging mabait kayo sa isa't isa, mahabagin, nagpapatawaran sa isa't isa, kung papaanong pinatawad kayo ng Diyos kay Cristo.”
A German word “schadenfreude” means the pleasure of sufferings of others. In Tagalog, “ma-karma k asana. Beh buti nga.” Let us remove this from our lives. Jesus accepted us, He forgave us, thus, we should also accept and forgive one another. I looked up the phrase “one another” in the New Testament and found out that this phrase appeared 26 times to mean love, accept, serve, and wait among others. What we do for each other, like the gospel says, we do for Christ the King. Christ is not outside of our experience. He is with us; He is right with us. He is going through the struggles of life with us and helping us overcome. He waits for the strong to help the weak.
Christ said, “Even to the least of My brethren, you do it to Me.” God’s promise is that He will restore all things. He will gather all His sheep, including those who we think are hopeless and won’t make it. They will make it because God will gather all His sheep. We won’t reach our goal apart from the rest. God designed it so that we enter His rest together as one man. Hence, we march together to the Church property that God gave us. It is more than an open house. We come even if we’ve seen it. It is us marching together upon the land as one family of God. We need to walk together. We are one family. It is a dress rehearsal for inheriting the kingdom of God together - the promise of greater things yet to come. Jesus Christ is King. He is our Good Shepherd. He is our loving Father. Together, in unity, hand in hand, carrying each other, let us enter our rest for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.