The last Sunday of the church year that we celebrate this weekend “The feast of Christ the King” prompts some thoughts about endings and beginnings.
With the coronavirus on the up-tick and all around us, as well racial and political strife and climate change along with a host of other disorders we wonder to ourselves if the end is near. On the other hand we say to ourselves as one of the playwrights wrote “it was the best of times and the worst of times.”
I’m sure that our parents and uncles and aunts who lived through the depression of the 1930’s and World War II of the 1940’s had some of these thoughts and feelings too. I suspect there is sort of a universal dimension of these feelings about the end — if not of the world then certainly of myself since in about 15 minutes I have a doctors appointment. (I’m hoping for a good report!)
With these kinds of thoughts we come to a reflection on this feast of Christ the King — the last Sunday in the liturgical cycle of the Roman Catholic church year.
In some sense the liturgical year reflects the natural cycles of birth and death with the added feature of rebirth/resurrection centered as it is on the Paschal Mystery of the dying and rising of Christ and our sharing in this mystery through baptism.
Some of the natural cycle that the church represents is found in the well known reading from Ecclesiastes that goes: “for everything there is a time; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time of war and a time of peace.” Some of this natural cycle is also found in the beautiful poem by Robert Frost “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
The gospel reading from Matthew that we will be reading this weekend is the well known last judgment scene made famous by Michelangelo in the painting from the wall of the Sistine chapel in Vatican City.
According to Matthew’s gospel, our judgment will be based on how well we have treated brothers and sisters in need: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the imprisoned etc., and have we been able to see Christ in these least ones and suffering ones.
Since I suspect many if not most of us fall short of the glory of God in our attitudes and sometimes our good deeds towards those who are hurting around us, we do seek God’s mercy and hope that it is as great if not greater than his justice.
A blessed thanksgiving to you all!