November 26, 2017: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by 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, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, 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, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
A stunning presentation of the parable’s judgment day is presented in the movie “The Fourth Wise Man”. The fictional fourth wise man is Artaban. He wishes to accompany the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, but he gets delayed. At one point, he is set upon by outcasts who steal his last gift. Artaban negotiates the return of his pearl for a day of using his talents as a physician to help them. Artaban stays, not for one day, but for thirty years! He gradually becomes a member of their community.
An incident reminds Artaban of his original quest. Artaban knows he can rescue the Messiah by bribing the Romans. As he rushes to do so, a woman calls his name. She had been kidnapped from his village. He gives his last pearl to ransom her. As she is rescued, Jesus dies on the cross. Artaban hangs his head in shame. He failed to bring his gems to the King.
Artaban never saw Jesus’ human face. Yet, at the end of his life, he immediately recognizes Jesus in the person speaking with him. Something had changed within Artaban so that he could now recognize the Lord. Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me …” Artaban is stunned and confused. When did he do these things for the Messiah?
Artaban’s last words are, “The King has accepted all my gifts.” Ah, the physical gems were really a distraction. His true gift was his entire life of compassionate kindness. Artaban found and lived the sacred place to which God wishes to guide each of us.
This week choose to stand beside someone as you help him/her. Let him/her glimpse that agape love behind your kindness. Afterwards reflect upon what you received from the experience.