The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Engaging Faith | Mon, Nov 17, 2008

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

November 23, 2008


Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Matthew 25:31-46


November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women


November 27: Thanksgiving Day (in the US)

November 28: Buy Nothing Day (See:


The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society.   

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120

"Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic social teaching. A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring. This is not a new insight; it is the lesson of the parable of the Last Judgment (see Matthew 25). Our tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and the vulnerable first. As Christians, we are called to respond to the needs of all our sisters and brothers, but those with the greatest needs require the greatest response."

-U.S. Catholic Bishops, A Century of Social Teaching, 6-7

The salvation brought by Christ is continually being offered to us, that it may bear abundant fruits of goodness in keeping with the plan of God who wishes to save all his children, especially those who have gone away from him and are looking for the way back. The Good Shepherd is always going in search of the lost sheep, and when he finds them he puts them on his shoulders and brings them back to the flock. Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!

John Paul II, Jubilee Message for those in Prisons, 9 July 2000

Today in our situation the authenticity of the people of God goes by way of poverty and justice: they are the touchstone of the truth of the faith that is professed and of the genuineness of life as it is lived out: poverty, which involves incarnating all our efforts and incarnating ourselves in the reality of the oppressed majorities, and that will necessarily entail a voluntary impoverishment and abnegation on the part of those who wield power; justice, which involves giving to the people what belongs to the people and struggling to uproot injustice and exploitation, and to establish a new earth, wherein the life of the new human may be possible.

~Ignacio Ellacuría SJ, martyred in ElSalvador in 1989

Thoughts for your consideration

The connection between today's gospel and Catholic Social Teaching seems very obvious and on one level there is nothing to add.  The gospel story reminds us that ultimately, we will be judged by how well we live out the social teaching of Jesus Christ.  We will be judged by whether we have responded to the call to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, welcome the stranger, serve those who are ill, and visit those who are in prison. Social concerns are an essential part of the Christian life.

As direct as we might find the story's message, there is a danger in reading the story in too limited a way.  We might be tempted to limit the story to direct service to those in need.  We must not forget that we are called to work for social change in the structures of our world and for empowerment of those in need. We are called to ask why people are hungry or thirsty or homeless or refugees or without medical care or in prison. We are called to look at

  • the structures that keep people from earning the food they need
  • the policies that keep people in the developing world from a healthy water supply
  • the economic forces that have some people living in substandard homes
  • the government rules that make life hard for refugees and immigrants
  • the failure of some. to see basic medical care as a human right for all
  • the challenge of helping those who are losing their jobs in the recession
  • the injustices in our criminal justice system.

There is also a danger using this story in too simplistic a way. Most people will recognize themselves has being both sheep and goats.  Most people have at some time answered the call to respond to those in need.  Most people at some time have also failed to respond to the call to respond to those in need.  All of us are called to be aware humbly of both realities in our personal life and in the life of culture and our nation.  Otherwise, we might fall into the trap of condemnation and ideology.  We might then judge the world in unfair categories of us and them - good people and bad people.  If we do this, we run the risk of simplifying the gospel message and preventing it from having its full power. We would also forget that judgment ultimately belongs to God.  Our awareness of the injustices of our world will empower us to grow and change and be filled with life in solidarity with God and others, "so that God may be all in all."


One way to understand the "kingship of Jesus Christ" is to look at the images that are offered us in the scriptures.  When the Christ is born it is to a homeless family.  When he travels around as a teacher, he seems to have no permanent home or dwelling and virtually no possessions.  He gathers with the poor, the sick, the tax collectors and even prostitutes. When Jesus enters Jerusalem it is on a donkey (not on a mighty horse or chariot).  In the gospel, the kingly Jesus is a prisoner of Pilate and will be put to death. 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you found yourself to be a "sheep?" 
When have you found yourself to be a "goat?"


How has the recession affected you and the people you know?

What does the gospel tell us to do?

Actions - Links

  • Ø Information about Buy Nothing Day: November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, can be found at
  • Ø November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (See: In 2002 the US Bishops addressed the issue of domestic violence. You can find their statement and other resources by going to
  • Ø On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Georgia. This weekend thousands will gather in Columbus, Georgia for the annual remembrance and protest. For info about the efforts to remember those killed and to bring an end of the SOA, go to

"Crazy Facts"

The FaithTrust Institute reports that "According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 95% of domestic violence victims in America are women, although men may also be victims."

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports: "World military expenditure in 2006 is estimated to have reached $1204 billion in current dollars. This represents a 3.5 per cent increase in real terms since 2005 and a 37 per cent increase over the 10-year period since 1997. Average spending per capita increased from $173 in 2005 to $184."

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us to see you in our brothers and sisters.

For those who are sick or in prison, we pray....

For those who are hungry or thirsty, we pray....

For those who are homeless, we pray....

For those who have lost jobs, we pray....

For those who are living from paycheck to paycheck, we pray....

For those who live in worry and fear about what they have and don't have, we pray....

For all those living in relationships marked by violence, we pray....

For all of us that we may keep our values in order and discover how to be grateful, we pray....

Prayer - Meditation

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

A hymn by John Foley SJ

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.

I will bless Yahweh at all times,

God's praise ever in my mouth.

Let my soul glory in the Lord,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

Let the lowly hear and be glad:

Yahweh listens to their pleas;

And to hearts broken God is near,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

Every spirit crushed God will save;

Will be ransom for their lives;

Will be safe shelter for their fears,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

We proclaim the greatness of God,

God's praise ever in my mouth;

Every face brightened in God light,

For God hears the cry of the poor.

Our God hears the cry of the poor.

Blessed be our God.

[Ps. 34/John Foley, SJ]

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