Frederich Nietzche, the German philosopher said, “God is dead.” In 1966 Time Magazine published a cover story that asked, “Is God Dead?” Is it God dead or alive for you and me?
Only a minority will say God is dead, but lots of us live like God is dead. Our God is alive, he is with us. We celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King- King of the Universe, which marks the end of the Liturgical year A, and next Sunday, we begin First Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year B.
The Gospel reading for this Solemnity is the conclusion of the discourse which portrays the final judgment. Even though it says it is a parable, but it really saying about the shepherd who separates righteous sheep and wicked goats. The criteria for the separation or judgment will be the deeds of mercy which has done for the least of Jesus’ brothers. Jesus told his disciples when they were commissioned and sent out, “Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward” (10:42). Jesus, our King, identifies himself with the least of our sisters and brothers. He says, “I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, imprisoned.” The question for us, did we recognize him.
In the first reading from the Book of Ezekiel, portrays a shepherd who gathers his sheep. Israelites were in Babylonian exile. God told them through the prophet that God, the good shepherd, will pasture them and give them rest and bring them back. At the end of the first reading we read like this, “As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats” (11:17). Matthew in Gospel (25:32-33) says the same thing going to happen at the judgment.
In the second reading Paul tells us that death came through Adam, but we all receive life through the risen Christ. He is the source of our strength; he is our good shepherd who offered as a ransom for our failures. He is our King who came from the house of King David.
Mother Teresa told this story in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. “One evening several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So I told the other Sisters, ‘You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.’ So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.’ But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving!!