Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pro-Life Homily for the Feast of Christ the King

The Feast of Christ the King is always on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time at the end of the liturgical year. The readings during Mass over the past few weeks have reminded us that we need to be prepared, because one day we will die and will have to give an account of our lives before Christ, the Just Judge (Romans 14, 12), who will reward those who have done good in this life and punish those who do evil (Matthew 25, 31-46). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Cor. 5,10). Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of God through whom all things exist. Christ is the King of all creation. He is also the master of human life. Only God has the power to give life. Only he has the right to choose to take an innocent human life to him.

One day Jesus will return to this earth, but his second coming will be different than his first. Many were not prepared for his first coming and rejected him. He deliberately left the time when he would return unclear, so that in every age people would prepare themselves spiritually to be ready for his return (Mark 13, 35-37). He told us that we must always be prepared because we don’t know the day of the hour (Matthew 25, 13). Will we be prepared when he comes to judge the living and the dead?

When Jesus first came to this earth he was vulnerable, meek and obscure. He took on flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was born as a Babe in Bethlehem. (Luke 1, 26-38)
When he comes again he will come in power and Glory (Matthew 24, 30).

At his first coming very few paid him homage (Matthew 2, 1-11).
At his second coming every knee shall bend before him (Romans 14, 11)

When he came to Bethlehem the door of the inn was closed to him (Luke 2,7).
When he returns The Book of Revelation describes the heavens opening and Jesus coming as King of kings and the Commander of an enormous army. (Rev. 19, 11)

His first coming was a secret. It was announced to only a few people (Luke 2, 8-20).
But when he comes again every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will mourn over him (Revelation 1, 7).

He came first as a meek and humble servant. He was rejected, endured suffering, humiliation and death (Phil. 2, 5-11).
When he returns, he will return as Judge to pass judgment on all who rejected him (Hebrews10, 30-31).

At his first coming cruel soldiers put a crown of thorns on his head (John 19, 2).
When he comes again he will wear a crown of gold (Rev. 14, 14).

He first came to this earth to give an opportunity for all people to enter into his kingdom including the good and the bad (Matthew 22, 1-14).
When he returns he will separate the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares. Those who did good will be rewarded, but those who have done evil will be punished (Matthew 13, 24-30: 25, 31-46).

The first time he came he said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18, 36).
When he returns he will exercise his power over the nations (Revelation 2, 26).
He came first as our Savior (John 3, 16-17).
He will return as a Merciful and Just Judge (Matthew 25, 31-46).

When he first came to this world Jesus warned us that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18, 36). Christianity has been criticized by outsiders for focusing so much of people’s attention on the next world that we have little concern about improving life here on this earth. Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people” since it he said that it distracted poor people from rising up against unjust social structures that kept them in poverty.

But in the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes(#39) the Church teaches us:

“… while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself (Cf. Luke 9:25), the expectation of a new earth must not weaken but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of foreshadowing of the new age.

Hence, while earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God.( Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p. 207.)

For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father: "a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace."( Preface of the Feast of Christ the King.) On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.”

Christians need to be advocates for the weak and the marginalized in a whole host of areas, but the greatest issue of social justice today is abortion, because it attacks the very right to life itself which is the condition for enjoying every other right.

Here is an excerpt from Mother Teresa’s speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway in 1979:

“But I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing, direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the scripture, for God says very clearly: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have curved you in the palm of my hand." We are curved in the palm of his hand; so close to him, that unborn child has been curved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget, something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you.

And today the greatest means, the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us.

Our children, we want them, we love them. But what of the other millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me? There is nothing between."

I had the privilege of meeting Mother Teresa twice. She gave me “her business card”. On it was written: “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.”

We prepare for Christ the King to come again through prayer and working for justice in this world. Mother Teresa showed us all the importance of the dignity of each and every human life created in God’s image and likeness. She also showed us the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on heaven while caring for the least fortunate among us.

Here is an excerpt from Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Families on February 2, 1994:
“Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ, who "is seated at the right hand of the Father", will come to judge the living and the dead. On the other hand, the Gospel of John assures us that Christ was sent "into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3:17). In what then does judgment consist? Christ himself gives the answer: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world... But he who does what is true comes into the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought by God" (Jn 3:19, 21).

Recently, the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor also reminded us of this. Is Christ then a judge? Your own actions will judge you in the light of the truth which you know. Fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, will be judged by their actions. Each one of us will be judged according to the Commandments, including those we have discussed in this Letter: the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Commandments. But ultimately everyone will be judged on love, which is the deepest meaning and the summing-up of the Commandments. As Saint John of the Cross wrote: "In the evening of life we shall be judged on love". Christ, the Redeemer and Bridegroom of mankind, "was born for this and came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of truth hears his voice" (cf. Jn 18:37). Christ will be the judge, but in the way that he himself indicated in speaking of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46). His will be a judgment on love, a judgment which will definitively confirm the truth that the Bridegroom was with us, without perhaps our having been aware of it.

The judge is the Bridegroom of the Church and of humanity. This is why he says, in passing his sentence: "Come, O blessed of my Father... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me" (Mt 25:34-36). This list could of course be lengthened, and countless other problems relevant to married and family life could be added. There we might very well find statements like: "I was an unborn child, and you welcomed me by letting me be born"; "I was an abandoned child, and you became my family"; "I was an orphan, and you adopted me and raised me as one of your own children". Or again: "You helped mothers filled with uncertainty and exposed to wrongful pressure to welcome their unborn child and let it be born"; and "You helped large families and families in difficulty to look after and educate the children God gave them". We could continue with a long and detailed list, including all those kinds of true moral and human good in which love is expressed. This is the great harvest which the Redeemer of the world, to whom the Father has entrusted judgment, will come to reap. It is the harvest of grace and of good works, ripened by the breath of the Bridegroom in the Holy Spirit, who is ever at work in the world and in the Church. For all of this, let us give thanks to the Giver of every good gift.
We also know however that according to the Gospel of Matthew the Final Judgment will contain another list, solemn and terrifying: "Depart from me... for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me" (Mt 25:41-43). To this list also we could add other ways of acting, in which Jesus is present in each case as the one who has been rejected. In this way he would identify with the abandoned wife or husband, or with the child conceived and then rejected: "You did not welcome me"! This judgment is also to be found throughout the history of our families; it is to be found throughout the history of our nations and all humanity. Christ's words, "You did not welcome me", also touch social institutions, governments and international organizations.”

For More Information:

For the full text of Mother Teresa’s speech accepting the Nobel Prize in 1979 see:

For the official teaching of the Catholic Church on Christ’s Second Coming see:

For more explanation of the Catholic teaching on this topic see: Catholic teaching on the end times:

For an explanation of what the Catholic Church teaches about the “Rapture” see:

For Bible passages describing Christ’s second coming:

Jesus will come “in the sight of all the people”.:

For The full text of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Families in 1994 see:


1 comment:

Silent Rain Drops said...

Fr. West, it's good to see you in the blogosphere! Since you are new, I thought perhaps you could use a little suggestion: your sidebar appears at the bottom of your blog because you have text in one of your posts that is too long - probably one of your hyperlinks. This happened to me, and it took a bit of wrangling for me to figure it out (actually I had to break down and ask my husband, who has the technical expertise in the family).

Thank you for this inspiring homily, and good luck with your new blog!