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Homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, Year A

I think we have mentioned before how Christmas traditionally was the end of the liturgical year. It was considered the end because the first coming of Christ pointed to the second coming of Christ and final judgment. I think therefore that having these readings now, just before we start Advent works pretty well. Indeed, celebrating Christ the King now, again ahead of Christmas, gives us a good frame for these readings, because they are all about the present in the light of the future.

In our Gospel, Christ is telling us what final judgment will be like. As we hear, this is not a banal picture, devoid of drama. Anyone who has looked at the various artistic depictions of this, whether it be Michaelangelo’s famous painting in the Sistine Chapel or, one of my favourites, the one in our Lady of the Assumption in Torcello near Venice, anyone who looks at these realises we are dealing with the literal final word. This is it.

But we are being told ahead of time. We know what is coming. In fact, we know this has already arrived. We know the prophecy in our first reading has come to pass. Christ is already risen. He is already enthroned at the right hand of the Father. It is really he who is presiding at the divine liturgy, speaking to us and becoming incarnate among us.

As St Paul in our second reading makes clear, we know that what is going on behind and beneath everything is Christ purifying creation, purifying it in order to hand over the perfect gift to the Father. God is at work, so that at the end of time Christ will be all in all, the perfect gift to the Father. And so what is happening at every moment is this mystery of judgment: all that is destined to be saved is entering into communion with Christ, and all that is destined not to be saved is being burned away by the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit.

We all know this. We have been told. And as we are told in the scriptures and many times in the liturgy, this time given to us is our time to be saved. This is the time we have been given to appropriate our baptism.

And we appropriate our baptism first and foremost by proclaiming all this. We know what is going on, and therefore we must live this way, and the first act of living this way is to share what we know with the people around us.

Given all this, I would like to do something a bit different today. The last few weeks we have heard that Jesus had gone away and entrusted jobs to his servants. These last few weeks we have heard that he returns to take stock, to hear what we have done. Today we hear this again on a cosmic level.

So, I would like us all to take a moment and imagine the following. Christ is coming in four weeks. We have four weeks to attend to our tasks. Christ in our gospel today has set out a list of things. Over the past few weeks, we have also been given many suggestions.

And so what I would like us to do today is to spend a few moments reflecting on this. Christ has spoken to us. We know he is coming. And so over the next four weeks, what am I going to do? What is the one thing I know is in the spotlight? What is the one task I must accomplish or at least make a start on before Christ arrives? What is the one relationship I need to revisit or begin or improve?

For each of us, there will be something. Today, we might only get a hint. It might only be a glimmer, or a feeling in the stomach. But whatever it is and however it comes, let’s start the process today, so we are ready because as we know, when he comes, it will not be a surprise.


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