Many times throughout this year Matthew has been trying to help us understand what it means to be part of the Kingdom of God. Through the parable of the two sons he showed us that it’s not a matter of words, of just saying yes to the Father, but of actually doing what the Father would like us to do. Jesus repeatedly speaks about love and forgiveness (‘seventy seven times’, he tells Peter). It’s about helping the brother who has erred to rise again, rather than judging him. It’s about giving to God what really belongs to Him, of putting on the right garment by living as beings created on His own image, walking on His footsteps the path which eventually led to the cross. Ultimately, it’s about living the greatest commandment which is Love, as he unhesitantly answered the law-scholar.
This Sunday we conclude this journey with Matthew. This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year of the Church. Next Sunday we begin a new year with the first Sunday of Advent. As always, this last Sunday celebrates the solemnity of Christ as King of the universe. It might sound a bit archaic, out of place in today’s world. But considering all that we’ve been reflecting upon, a good reflection on the make-up of this Kingdom is very fitting. To help us do this the Church presents to us the well-known passage of the Last Judgement. The King, who is judging the people of “all nations”, separates the good from the bad, or the sheep from the goats as the story tells us. Then he gives us the criteria on which He is basing His judgement. It’s not about the hours spent in prayer or the number of days I actually went to church. Let’s be clear: prayer and worshipping with my fellow-Christians is important or, rather, indispensable. Because it is there where I get the strength needed to live out my faith in my daily life. But stopping there is not enough. Christianity is never selfish. It’s not about me. My faith has to be lived out in my daily life – no need for extraordinary stuff. Jesus identifies himself with the people I meet in my everyday life. I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick. It’s all about the needy. Whether these needy people find themselves in this state due to their own mistakes, or whether they are lovable or unloving people does not matter. What matters for me as a Christian is that if they need my help I am expected to reach out to them.
This is what belonging to God’s Kingdom is all about. Living the greatest commandment in my daily life. Putting in practice the command which Jesus gave us at the Last Supper after washing the feet of his disciples (Judas included): “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”