THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING.
1. The Feast of Christ the King was mostly celebrated around the world with meditations on the Kingship of Christ and His sovereign rule over the world. Well and good. But that is not the purpose of the Liturgical feast. It is a reminder of General Judgment day......that all men will die and be judged by Christ giving each one what he deserves. By this Sunday all Catholics should know what judgment they will receive from God on that day because Holy Mother the Church had been teaching them for one whole year the basis for God's judgment. If anyone feels he or she will go to heaven when they die, it means that their bishop or parish priest had done a very bad job. Famed convert Ronald Knox quipped that before all Protestants believed they will go to heaven. While Catholics believed they will go to hell because they know how narrow the road is. Today, both believe they will go to heaven without any theological proof. Pope Emeritus' 'year of Faith' that ended with Christ the King was a year in which we were supposed to study what are the requirements to receive a favorable judgment from God. And if we have the requirements.
2. The Liturgical Year.
Holy Mother the Church uses the Liturgical Year to prepare man for that General Judgment Day by showing him the straight road; starting from the first step, passing through several proximate goals, one of which is preparedness for the general judgment. And ending with the ultimate goal which is the Love of God. The Liturgy shows us the entire road; from departure , through the four stations that lead to the ultimate destination.....all are constantly in our view.
If we compare it to a journey by train, Holy Mother shows us the road, the four stations we must pass by and the final destination at the end of the road. The Liturgy makes no detours, no stop-overs and no slowing down. It give us the shortest road between two points which is a straight line. There are four stations; conversion, Faith, Hope and Charity. The perfection of Charity is the ultimate goal, attainable only with the grace of God. The Liturgy also tells us by signs in what stage of the journey we are. This is important.
3. The Liturgy can do something a train or plane trip cannot do.
The Liturgy shows us three things; first, the entire road up to the final destination. Secondly, in what part of the journey we are in. And thirdly, something a train or a plane cannot do but which the Liturgy can do is: to teach us how to hurry up if we are behind schedule.These are all found in the Gospels.
4. The Fathers of the Church adds and refines details.
In their writings, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church followed this evangelical schema. So their writings enhance man's ability to see the entire road from the first step, the four proximate stations and the ultimate goal. They even explain why the journey is going slow and how to hasten it. They enumerate the detours that should be avoided and the tourists spot that should not distract the soul. But over and above all they explain when you are behind schedule and what you can do to hasten your pace. All these are very clear in their writings. Pope Benedict combined the Gospel and the Fathers together in his 'Year of Faith.'
5. The four stations and ultimate goal are clearly described in the life of Christ and the Apostles.
For instance, the apostles begun their journey with 'conversion' while they were disciples of St. John the Baptist wherein they underwent the baptism of water or repentance. While in the life of Christ He showed the life of conversion during His 30 years of hidden life.
While Christ showed, for our instruction, His life of Faith accomplished before the temptation in the mountain, the Apostles showed their Faith when they left all things to follow Christ.
It is difficult to pin point the four stations in the Life of Christ because He had all the virtues from the beginning. It is easier to show how the Apostles reached each station. The Apostles begun the life of Faith when they left all things and reached the perfection of Faith after the Passion of Christ. They reached Hope at the Resurrection of Christ. They reached the beginnings of Charity on Easter and reached the perfection of Charity on Pentecost.
6. Advent reminds us the beginnings of the journey but emphasizes more our ultimate end.
Advent shows us the first station, the beginning of the journey and at the same time the ultimate end of the journey. You will note that Advent though described as a preparation for Christmas does not deal with the first coming but with preparation for the second Coming of Christ, i.e. Advent is a continuation of the Feast of Christ the King. The first station of the journey really begins with Lent wherewith the Liturgy teaches how to undergo conversion. Then the Liturgy goes on a fast preview of all the three other proximate goals; namely, Faith during Quadragesima Sundays, Hope during Passiontide and Charity during Easter and Pentecost. Then the Liturgy returns back to the journey of Faith but this time in slow motion. This is described as the Sundays in Ordinary time where the Church very slowly describes for 28 Sundays the visible signs of Faith and absence of Faith. During these Sundays those in their right mind can easily judge if they have Faith or not. So by year end they should have hints whether God will reward or punish them during the General Judgment.
Then starting with the 29th to the 33th Sunday in Ordinary time (i.e. for five Sundays) the Liturgy summarizes those with perfect Faith, which means Faith enlivened with Charity. These are the only ones ready to face Christ the King and receive a favorable judgment from God as hoped for by the widow.
7. This schema taught by Scriptures and celebrated by the Liturgy of the Catholic Church and enhanced by the teachings of the Fathers of the Church is the schema used by Pope Benedict in his 'new evangelization' and the 'year of Faith. It is so clear that a soul can see the road that leads to eternal life. Pope Benedict's job was to provide the theology of history wherein he tells us if we are behind schedule or not.
8.Having learned Scriptures from the Liturgy, having learned the meaning of the Liturgy deeper through the Fathers and having learned the theology of history to see if we are abreast with the Church, the Feast of Christ the King gives us the criteria by which we can know if all the knowledge we have learned and put into practice will bring us to heaven.
9. Two Groups judged by Christ.
The first groups are those who have heard about Christ and some of His teachings. . The second are those who have never heard of His name and His teachings. Each group is further divided into two. Let us first see the two groups of those who will be saved. The first will rise up to heaven to meet Christ, according to St. Paul. These are the perfect who have the signs enumerated in the last 5 Sundays before Christ the King; namely, they are like Zachaeus who had left all things and as a result can pray unceasingly like the widow because devoid of all possessions nothing could distract them. With the help of unceasing prayer they discover all their sins, including the secret ones, and in their unceasing prayer are able to receive from God the virtue of Faith for the forgiveness of their sins. Thus they merit eternal life. They will not line up with the rest who will be judged on earth. As good souls they have already been judged as deserving to go to heaven.
The second among the first group described in the Liturgy who will also rise and meet Christ 'in the air' are those who have the visible signs of Faith as described from the 10th Sunday in Ordinary time (described in the Missal as 'Developing one's Faith'); up to the 28th Sunday. And this is represented by Dimas, the good thief, mentioned in the Gospel of Christ the King, Year C. These are Catholics who are unable to pray unceasingly, etc..They were unable to reached the perfection of Charity but have, at least reached perfect Faith showed in that they are able to give up all things like the first Apostles and Zachaeus. Because Dimas was a thief he probably would not have been able to give up all things since his occupation was, in fact, stealing what belongs to others. To help him, God, instead of waiting for Dimas to give up all things like Zachaeus, took away all things from him in the hope Dimas would resign himself to the fact that God took everything away from him including his life. It was his resignation to God's will that helped him deserve perfect Faith that includes Hope and Charity.....but not perfect Charity as in the first case..
All those destined to heaven are judged by Christ with the criteria mentioned in all the 33 Sundays in Ordinary time.. All who have heard of Christ and His teaching but do not have the visible signs enumerated in the 33 Sundays do not have Faith, Hope and Charity and will not go to heaven. Why is God's judgment so strict. Because at this time there will no purgatory so we must be perfect before we die.
The second group is made up of those who never heard of Christ nor His teachings. These are the ones who will line up, one on the right (the sheep) and the other on the left (the goats). Pagans and Christians who have heard about Christ and His teachings do not fall in this category. How do we know they never heard of Christ nor His teaching. They said so. When Christ told them; 'Because I was hungry you gave me to eat.' They asked; 'When did we see you hungry?' See, they fed Christ without recognizing Him. How did that happen. Christ said; 'whenever you did it to this the least of your brethren you did it to me.'
We must take note of this. That the one who was fed was one with Faith. Being an unbeliever he did not know he fed one with Faith. We only feed Christ if we feed someone with Faith. Not everyone we feed is Christ. Only those with Faith. And because unbelievers do not know who has and do not have Faith the safest thing for him to do is to feed all the hungry.
How come this guy was so lucky as to accidentally feed one with Faith? Because God saw he deserved to be saved. So God sent one with Faith to be fed by him. St. Paul even mentioned that God sometimes send angels so they can feed angels and be saved. These are the ones lined up on the right side.
The goat on the left side are those who probably fed a lot of people, like their families and friends, but had never fed one with Faith, due to neglect or carelessness. The fact that he neglected to feed one with Faith who was hungry will be the reason for his condemnation. So, again, the importance of feeding all the hungry even if they do not beg food from you. If you without knowing feed one with Faith, that can save your soul. If you without knowing refuse to feed one with Faith that can condemn your soul. To play safe feed all the hungry even if you have to sell all your belongings. That is what Zachaeus did, in addition to knowing Christ and His teachings.
10. A Catholic can know with great precision that he will certainly get a favorable judgment from God even before he dies. All he need to know are the Gospels of the Sunday Liturgy, an interpretation from the Fathers that refines his knowledge of the Gospel and a reminder from the Pope on the theology of history. Of course, he can further refine this knowledge without end. And the more it is refined the more he can be certain of what he must do to get that favorable judgment. Ordinarily he can have this knowledge if this is all given in a Sunday homily, as in the days of the Fathers like St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, where the homilies were not less than two hours. Homilies in the early times were that long and even longer that is why they produced saints.
The short homilies encouraged today cannot teach anything and contributes to the ignorance of Catholic Doctrine. And yet we encourage missionaries to talk long. Only homilies within a Mass has the grace to enlighten. Talks outside the Mass, even missionary talks, because there is no accompanying grace from the Mass is just exactly that....talks without grace to enlighten.
11. As the 'Year of Faith' ends the fruits we see are not good. In fact they are very bad. Many still do not know how to make an act of Faith though this is explained in the Gospels. Why? Because as described in the parable of the sower, the seeds do not fall on fertile ground. The Gospel readings are not bearing fruits. Secondly, priests do not use the writings of the Fathers that can help impress the Gospel message in the hearts of the hearers, because they themselves are ignorant of the Father's writings. And lastly, the laymen and the clergy do not get the hints of the Holy Father in what stage of the history of the Church we are in. Ignorance, ignorance, ignorance.......in an age of super-abundant knowledge that are easily available.The state of the Church? People are dying without knowing beforehand where they are going. Most are just guessing where they are going. And most are wrong. Can we afford to commit such a mistake. But with the three above elements cleverly combined in the 'Year of Faith' of Pope Benedict, we cannot make a mistake.
12. Let me give a final example. I want to know in what stage I am in my journey while passing through the four stations leading to my final destination. My final destination is Loving God with all my mind and heart. I look at myself and see that I have reached a point where I have reached Faith and needs only to increase my Faith. That would be the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. I have just arrived in the second station and will soon leave to proceed to the third station which is for me to imitate the gratitude of the Samaritan leper in the 28th Sunday. Am I really grateful? I check what grateful means according to St. Augustine. And he defines gratitude as returning more than what you have received. It is not just saying 'Thank you' a hundred times? No! Then I know I have not reached the spiritual level of the grateful leper.
Then Pope Benedict hints, quoting St. Bonaventure, that we are in the sixth day of the theology of history, i.e. the Church is in the state of the poor widow in the Gospel of 29th Sunday. We are behind schedule. We are outside the train. We cannot receive a favorable judgment from God. So the very Liturgy tells us not to remain just being a grateful leper but to rush and become like the widow of the Gospel. How do you do that? Study St. Thomas' commentary and how to be like the widow; by praying unceasingly.
Now you are abreast with the Church. You are on schedule and will surely receive a favorable judgment from God.
13. Hopefully we have shown the precision and clarity by which Pope Benedict had guided the Church through the true path that leads to Christ through his 'New Evangelization' and 'Year of Faith.' Through his teachings we can know exactly where we stand before Christ's judgment seat. Next we shall compare Pope Francis evangelization 'Evangelii Gaudium' with Pope Benedict's 'new evangelization.'