Sunday, 20 November 2011
Pastoral Reflection about our Christ the King Diocesan Celebration, Procession and Holy Hour
"Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you" (Matthew 25,34)
Today is the solemnity of Christ the King. Pope Pius XI in his encyclical ‘Quas Primas’ formally proclaimed the doctrine of the Kingship of Christ. With the scriptural passage about the forthcoming birth of Jesus Christ in the annunciation of Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary saying, ‘and his reign has no end’ (Luke 1,33) and the traditional teaching of the Church Jesus Christ is rightfully true and universal King. How? First is divine Sonship of Jesus, that is, His birthright as Son of God. Second as Jesus Christ fulfilled the divine will of the Father, He ransomed us through His blood from our slavery to sin and from Satan. It is His right as Redeemer that we belong now to Him. Being our Savior Jesus leads us back to the Father and makes us worthy to inherit heaven. Third as in the Acts of the Apostles Jesus Christ will come on the last day as our divine and just Lord, ‘the one appointed by God to judge the living and the dead’ (10,42). We know that earthly king has power over his subjects. He can do anything he wants to them. He can ask anything from them. But Jesus is different kind of king. He is the true and universal King who only wants our salvation. And for this He will do everything to make us saved. So He gives up His own life for our sake. He only asks one thing from us. It is our contrition.
"Then the king will say to those on his right!" (34)
In today’s gospel of Saint Matthew 25: 31-46, Jesus as our true and universal King presents Himself as our caring and merciful Judge. As His subjects we will face Him on the last day. Being our King He will judge us. And today’s gospel scene is the "how" Jesus the true and universal King will judge us, His subjects. The basis of His last judgment is simple yet very basic. It is how we react and response to the demands of human needs. Thus, we will be judged not on the talents and skills we have acquired. We will not be judged about the prestige and fortune we have earned. It is not about the popularity and degrees we have gained. But it is how far we extend our help. Yes, it is how much we have helped.
This help that is being asked from us are about the most common and essential needs of man: food, clothing and shelter. They should not be expensive clothing, nor very sumptuous meal not cozy shelter. What is ask from us is to attend to their needs, to be sensitive to their situation and to do something for them. Thus, it is a challenge for us to be more charitable. We are asked to be more merciful. And this mercy should be seen and translated into actions.
These people mentioned in today’s gospel: prisoner, beggar, hungry and without clothing are all insignificant and ordinary people. And those whom we considered as as insignificant, ordinary and nobody are really those whom we could meet everyday. They are all around us. Thus, there is no need for us to seek out for them. But they need us to help them. They represent Christ. And in them, we have to see Christ asking us to get involved. So, to help them is to reach out to Christ. To ignore them is to ignore Christ. To neglect them is to neglect Christ. He reminds us "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it to me."(v40).
Now, how diligently we have fulfilled the works of mercy? They are our passports to heaven. To perform those works of mercy will merit us to hear the final verdict of Jesus for us "come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you." (v34).
Let me tell you this inspiring story. During the pontificate of Blessed Pope John XXIII, he gave an advised to an American bishop. The good pope said, "when you face Jesus Christ in eternity, he will not ask you how you got along with the Roman Curia. But on how many souls you have saved."
Let us now ask ourselves. What we have done so far to Jesus as to prove that He is our King and Lord here on earth? What we have done so far to our brother and sisters as to show that we are faithful followers and subjects of Jesus our King and Lord?
"Remember me when you come into your kingdom"(Luke 23,42)
Our beloved Diocese of Balanga is now reviving the previous devoted practice of street procession and celebration of the Christ the King. At five in the afternoon of Saturday, November 19 we will gather together at the Balanga People’s Center for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. From then on we will go on procession towards Saint Joseph Cathedral. Holy Hour follows.
Why are we doing this as Diocesan liturgical activity? This is our open and united proclamation of Jesus as our only King and Savior. It is our visible acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and King. We, as one people of God in this Diocese of Balanga, publicly acknowledge Jesus as our sovereign King, but a different kind of king. King as we know from our previous histories rules a kingdom, has a throne, a scepter of power and lives in a castle. He is being protected and defended by his subjects. They bow to him, submit themselves to him and fight to death for him. A king is known to be rich, powerful and has authority of life and death over his life them.
But we know and recognize that Jesus is not like that kind of king. His throne is His cross. He rules by serving us. His power is His redeeming love. He is the one who protects, defends us and even dies for us. His will is to have us inherit eternal life and He gives us His life for our salvation. Jesus, our king is rich in mercy. He is powerful over sin and death. His authority is to forgive us and to lead us back to the Father. Jesus our divine King is always assuring us "today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23,43). With our Diocesan celebration and procession of Christ the King let us go out and cooperate. Let us be present on that day of November 19, encounter Jesus during the procession along Capitol Drive and experience Him during the Holy Hour at Saint Joseph Cathedral.
Why are we reliving our Diocesan liturgical celebration and procession of Christ the King? This is our tangible participation as one and united participation to pay respect, to honor Jesus publicly as our King and Redeemer. Our patient waiting or untiringly walking is our submission to Jesus. As we stay and stand amidst heat and rain we show our self-surrender to Jesus. We offer ourselves to His service. We obey His call and His commandments. We bow down to His will. We give in to His ways. And as we reverently and silently pray during the Holy Hour, we humbly commit ourselves to Jesus to be His faithful subjects, loyal followers and His faithful brothers and sisters. As our King and Savior we implore His love and merciful judgment. As our king and Lord we invoke upon us His providential care and heavenly favors.
Our dearest Lord Jesus, our divine and benevolent King.
You are our life and love. You are our hope and help.
We acknowledge your mighty power and merciful deeds.
We accept your caring ways and saving will.
Everything is because of your goodness. Everything is from you and for you.
We submit ourselves to you. We surrender all what we have and all who we are to you. We accept your rights over us. Take us. Transform us. And reign over us.
In your great mercy and gracious love make me your soldiers of faith, your responsible stewards of your creation and caring servants to your flock.
May your kingdom of peace and prosperity take hold of Bataan. May your kingship of harmony and holiness rule all of us. May the best and blessing be upon us. And may your kingdom come. Amen.
+Ruperto Cruz Santos
Bishop of Balanga