RESPONDING TO JESUS’ NEEDS

Christ the King   

            There is an anecdote in the life of St. Martin of Tours… A poor man approached him and asked for alms. Martin had no money, but seeing that man shivering in the cold, he took his cloak from his shoulders, cut it in two with his sword, and gave half to the beggar.

            Later that night Martin was rewarded with a vision of Jesus wearing the half of the cloak he had given away. One of the angels said to Jesus: “Lord, why are you wearing that battered cloak? Who gave it to you?” And Jesus answered softly: “My servant Martin gave it to me.”

            We celebrate today the Solemnity of Christ the King. As we celebrate this feast, we are reminded in today’s gospel reading that if we want to honor Christ the King, if he is truly our King, we must do something to the least of his sisters and brothers. Today’s gospel contains one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever told. The lesson is crystal clear: God will judge us in accordance with our response to human needs.

            Mother Teresa used to say, “In the poor we meet Jesus in his most distressing disguises.” Sana, sa Huling Paghuhukom, sa pagharap natin kay Kristong Hari, hindi natin sasabihin, “Naku, Hesus, sorry… Hindi kita nakilala… Ikaw pala ‘yung humihingi sa akin ng tulong noon.” “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to feed you when you were hungry because I always felt the need of eating so much pizza, burger, steak or expensive seafood to the point of over-eating.” “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to give you drink when you were thirsty because I always had to consume so much soft drinks, beer, wine or liquor to the point of over-drinking.” “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to welcome you when you were a stranger, because I always distrusted strangers – I thought that they might abuse my hospitality – at baka pagnakawan pa ako.” “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to clothe you when you were naked, because I spent too much for signature clothes and accessories – at di ko rin maipamigay ‘yung mga damit na di ko na ginagamit.” “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to care for you when you were ill, because I was too preoccupied with my physical beauty and I was too busy having parts of my body ‘retouched’. “Sorry, Lord, I wasn’t able to visit you when you were in prison, because I was saying to myself, ‘Buti nga sa iyo… Magdusa ka at mabulok ka riyan sa bilangguan.’” “Naku, Hesus, sorry… Hindi kita nakilala… Ikaw pala ‘yung humihingi sa akin ng tulong noon.”

            Allow me to use the commentary and reflection of Pope John Paul II “This parable must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience.” “Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need – openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically affluent; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped, the disadvantaged.” “Christ demands openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or halfhearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before, or even more so.” “We cannot sit idly by, enjoying our own riches and freedom, if, in any place, the Lazarus of our time stands at our doors.”

            St. Ambrose also has an important reminder to us on this matter: “If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other belongs to the person who has no shirt.” “If you have two pairs of shoes in your rack, one belongs to you and the other belongs to the person who has no shoes.” What is the ground of St. Ambrose for saying this? It is based on the basic principle that: Everything we have – our life, our body, our breath, our time, our talents, our resources… everything we have is a sheer gift, given to us by a generous God. We are in no position to hoard the goods of the world without a sense of the common good – without a sense of the least among us, our poor sisters and brothers who do not have enough.

            A Jesuit priest, Jon Sobrino, wrote a book entitled “No Salvation outside the Poor.” Ang title ng aklat ay nagpapahayag ng isang inconvenient truth: Ang kaligtasan natin ay nakasalalay sa paglilingkod, pagtulong at paggawa natin nang kabutihan sa mga dukha. Our attitude to the poor reveals our true attitude to Christ and determines our salvation.

            My dear friends, we better notice the poor around us. So that, at the Last Judgment, we may hear the Lord Jesus telling us, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father… inherit the kingdom…” “For I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.”        

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