One of the standard polling questions we hear constantly is: do you believe the country is headed in the right direction? On this last Sunday of the liturgical year the readings answer a much broader question: is the world, the universe, headed in the right direction? And the Christian answer is a resounding yes.
Today is the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe. And as Christians we know the end of the story. We know how all of this end. It ends with the coming of the fullness of the kingdom of God. God has one goal, and in 1 Cor. 15:28 we are told what it is
in order that God might be all in all
Evil exists, and at a given moment in a given place it may appear to be winning. People who choose to do evil may appear to get ahead. But if we are Christians we know better. We know that their success is fleeting, their victories an illusion.
The Kingdom of God is coming, it is already among us, within us. For every human being there is only question. Will you be a part of it or not? It really is that simple.
And how are you part of the Kingdom? The gospel today reminds us that we must avoid the two extremes, too simple or too complex. On the too simple side are the Catholic "Baptism makes you part of the Church" or the Protestant "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior." Those are merely first steps.
The too complex folks are the ones who think you have to be registered, thithe, and be involved in every event at Church. The gospel today reminds us that you can do all of that and in the end not be a part of the Kingdom.
The reading from Mt. 25 takes us back to what we used to memorize as the corporal works of mercy. Today's gospel reminds us that you can be able to explain transubstantiation, the hypostatic union, and the immaculate conception; but if you do not practice basic love of neighbor you are not part of the kingdom of God. As a reminder here are the lists of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It might be worth reviewing this list on some regular basis and asking how am I doing?
The Corporal Works of Mercy
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
Admonish the sinner
Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive all injuries
Pray for the living and the dead