My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We have come to the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year. And it has been a strange and challenging year for all of us in the Church.
Let us keep praying for those who have lost loved ones in this pandemic, which only continues. And let us pray for those who are sacrificing to care for the sick and dying, and for their families.
And also we continue to pray for our nation in this moment of uncertainty and transition.
So this Solemnity that we celebrate today reminds us that this world is under a higher authority, a greater mercy. This feast reminds us that Jesus Christ is the King of the world, the Author of life, and the Lord of history.
With all the challenges of this year — the political and social unrest, the great disruption of the coronavirus — we need to remember this. We need to stay united to Jesus Christ.
During this time of the pandemic, I think that many of us have had the experience of hearing the Scriptures in a new way, in a more personal way. For me, this has been true with the 23rd Psalm, which we prayed today, the Responsorial Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. Let goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.”
My brothers and sisters, this is the truth of our lives. And it is the truth of history. The Lord is our shepherd. He is there. He is going before us. In his passion and death, he walked the lonesome valley, the dark valley of the shadow of death. He suffered that for you, and he suffered that for me.
His love is personal. Jesus walked through that valley of death to lead us to the other side — to the green pastures, to the living waters of Baptism, to the table of the Holy Eucharist, to the House of God, where we will live forever with him.
So the promise of our faith is that he is our Good Shepherd. He is calling us to follow him — wherever he leads us. And in this challenging year of the pandemic, he is still calling us to walk with him in faith.
But our Lord is also guiding the path of history, the events of this world. That is what the prophet Ezekiel is teaching us in that first reading of today’s Mass. He brings us the very personal promise of our Lord. As we heard in the first reading of today’s Mass:
As a shepherd tends his flock …
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
This promise is also true! This promise is for all time. And it is for right now. When the world seems “cloudy and dark.” When we cannot see to “other side” of this pandemic.
In this time of uncertainty, we need to stretch out our hands, to reach for Jesus who is reaching out for us. Trust him, my dear brothers and sisters! He will not leave us. He will not fail us. He will rescue us, as he promises today.
Divine Providence is that beautiful belief that we have that God is in charge of the world. It’s true. It is difficult to imagine when we see so many clouds, so much darkness. But that is what God is asking of us in this moment. To believe. To come to him in our fear.
Human history is salvation history. It is all under his mercy. He has a beautiful plan. For every human heart. For every nation. And for all creation.
So my dear brothers and sisters, we cannot forget that God is still working. Even in this time of suffering and death, God is working for the good of those who love him.
So, we want to make sure that we are always to be found among those who love him.
And as we also know, the invitation to follow Jesus is simply an invitation to love. This is what Jesus asks of us. Love and only love.
And that what Jesus is talking about in the Gospel passage today.
We know that he said the two great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor. And before he died he gave us a new commandment — to love one another as he loves us.
In the Gospel today, he brings the love of God and the love of neighbor together. As he said:
Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.
This is the beauty of Christian love! When we give our love to those who have the least, we find Jesus. And when we find Jesus, we have God.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus is telling us today that true love must be expressed in works of sacrifice and mercy. Yes, Christian love is a decision, an action. Christian love means clothing the naked, healing the sick, visiting the prisoner.
This is the beauty of our faith — loving God and loving one another.
So during this challenging time especially, let’s try to share more with our brothers and sisters this beautiful hope that we have in Jesus, who is the King and Lord of the universe.
By our love for others, let us show them that Jesus loves them with a love that is stronger than death.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary watch over us and keep us always close to her Son, Jesus.
1. Readings: Ezek. 34:11-12, 15-17; Ps. 23:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:20-26; 28. Matt. 25:31-46.