1. A while back I spoke with someone who said she had a serious problem.
a. It had to do with her husband, and she needed to talk to me.
2. She said, she and her husband were getting older,
a. and she was desperate to resolve this issue before he died and went to hell.
3. What was this issue, this threat to his eternal salvation?
a. Her husband was a protestant,
i. and she wanted me, a former protestant to convert him.
4. Many older Catholics will remember they were taught
a. that when we die God judges us.
i. Good people go to heaven, bad people, to hell.
ii. And to be Catholic was good, and anything else was bad.
5. This woman was sure that her husband,
a. who had never become Catholic, despite her best efforts, would go to hell.
6. Most of us would not take her fear seriously – I must admit I had to struggle to.
7. We like to think of God as more merciful than judgmental, and
8. we like to think of ourselves as more enlightened;
9. When illness strikes or a plague breaks out
a. Such as the AIDS virus
b. Or CoVID-19
c. we speak more about of risk factors and viruses
i. than about God’s judgment
10. When Muslims kill Jews and the Jews retaliate,
a. We think more of the political terms terrorism and war
i. than of the theological terms punishment and judgment.
11. And yet, let’s be honest; judgment is alive and well in America today.
a. For who here can forget the rant of many,
i. that AIDS is God’s judgment on gays?
b. Who can forget the assertion
i. that September 11th was God’s judgment on America.
c. Who can forget the judgments of evangelical ministers
d. that Mohammed, the prophet, beloved by Moslems,
e. and Joseph Smith, the prophet beloved by Mormons, were child molesters?
12. And even if we don’t share those judgments,
a. does it then mean that we are free of others?
i. When we see a homeless person
ii. when we see pictures of the hungry,
iii. or hear stories of people in prison,
b. who here hasn’t thought if even for a moment,
c. that if they’d only get a job and obey the law
d. they wouldn’t be where they are?
13. We judge, we judge that God judges,
a. and we Americans increasingly see ourselves as the world’s judge,
b. meeting out punishment on all who question our American Way of Life.
14. People who judge love the feast of Christ the King.
15. The feast was established in 1925 by Pius XI
a. in the wake of the Russian revolution and the growth of communism.
16. Communism was officially atheistic, and its growth was a threat to the Church.
17. Thus Pius instituted a feast,
a. which proclaimed that atheism would never have the last word,
b. but that Christ would,
i. when he returned at the end of time to rule the world as king.
18. The message to communists was clear;
a. They would be judged
19. The message to atheists was clear
a. Their judge would be Christ
20. The message to everyone was clear
a. In order to escape God’s judgment and receive God’s blessing
21. serve no one but Christ our king.
22. People who judge love this feat because they love the idea of God as a judge,
a. meeting out punishment and blessing to all.
23. And today’s gospel speaks of this judgment;
a. For in it we see Christ the mighty king come to judge,
b. separating the sheep who had served him
c. From the goats who had not.
i. It seems straightforward . . . Except for one thing;
24. If this parable were first and foremost a parable about Christ’s judgment;
a. That is, where we will be consigned to all eternity, heaven or hell,
25. Then there is a problem,
a. because the sheep and the goats are judged on their service of Christ,
b. yet neither the sheep who were to be blessed
c. nor the goats who were to be punished
i. knew that it was Christ they were supposed to be serving!
ii. Talk about unjust punishment!
iii. How could such a judgment be fair?
26. Thus if this parable is about where we will be consigned for the rest of eternity,
a. well then it makes Christ the King is the most unjust judge of all.
27. But it is not.
a. For this parable is not first and foremost where we one day will be,
i. but where Christ is right now.
ii. And that is with the poor, homeless, the hungry and those in prison.
iii. The ones that the sheep served, and the goats did not.
iv. The ones that we judge, but Christ would not.
28. This parable is not about Christ’s ability to judge, but our inability.
a. And it is at that point the moral of the story becomes clear:
i. If we wish to serve Christ,
ii. and be faithful members of that kingdom where Christ is King
iii. don’t judge; simply serve.
29. Speaking to that woman who was afraid that her husband was one of the goats,
a. I agreed that we want all people to be Catholic,
b. and we should invite everyone to draw near to God in Christ through the Church,
c. But salvation isn't our work; its God’s.
i. Her husband is a good and loving man, has a relationship with God in large part, through her,
ii. and has served others with her both in church and outside of it.
iii. And only God knows the state of his soul.
d. All she, any of us can do is let God be the judge,
i. because only God is able to judge.
30. Thank God for that – because we have something far more important to do than judge where people will be in the next life.
a. It is our job to serve them in this one.
31. Because then, maybe just maybe, our service, will speak to them of God, and one day, they will become servants too.