Christ the King (26 November)

Our Gospel passage is taken from Matthew Chapter 25

The last judgment scene is the final and climactic passage in Jesus’ discourse on the end times. Here Matthew provides the New Testament’s only detailed depiction of the great, final assize. The dramatic scene follows a series of exhortations and parables through which Jesus has taught his followers what constitutes proper behaviour as they await his return in glory. Matthew draws on imagery from Daniel 7:13–14 – where the Ancient of Days, enthroned in glory, bestows on ‘one like a son of man’ (RSV) dominion and glory – to set forth the full manifestation of God’s reign. The passage opens with a vivid description of the Son of Man’s coming in glory, accompanied by angels, seated on his throne. The nations are then gathered and separated into two groups. Jesus is portrayed in his glorious return as a shepherd, an image Matthew employs throughout his Gospel. Matthew’s depiction of the last judgment can be compared to a wellness check. Its purpose is not to condemn or scare but to provide a snapshot of our overall health, development, learning, and growth that should lead to new habits and ways of life. Although not a parable but a narrative depiction of the last judgment, the main drive of this reading is the same as for the previous three parables. The call is to do it right at all times. And in these familiar words of Jesus are two profoundly important ideas. The first is a statement about God. Our God is not someone who is only seated somewhere in the mysterious reaches of the universe but he is here, with us in the messiness of our daily lives. The second most important thing about this subject, however, is not social, political, economic, or religious. It is personal. God wants not only a new world modelled on the values of Jesus, but God wants us – each of us. He is a God of love who wants to save us, redeem us and give us the gift of life – true, deep, authentic human life. This is God’s favourite project: to teach you and me the fundamental lesson, the secret, the truth – that to love is to live.