The liturgical year culminates in the great Feast of Christ the King, which Pope Pius XI instituted in 1925. After the turmoil of World War I, along with the rise of atheism in communist countries, he wanted to remind us of the final victory and unity under Christ, the one, true King. No matter how bleak life can be, it is Christ who will have the last word to say in a world gone astray. This is good news.
It is easy to overlook this feast as we look ahead toward Christmas. Indeed, preparations are already well underway at this parish for Advent. Yet, there is a relationship. Like a spiral, the ending of one year feeds into the start of the new.
Our readings this weekend remind us that we cannot separate the King from the Kingdom. Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. We celebrate Christ as our King by loving our neighbors. We will honor the King when we help bring about the Kingdom.
Christmas is a time for giving. As we share gifts this holiday season with our friends, family and with those in need, we are foreshadowing the full realization of that Kingdom. After a long and hopeful wait for our King, it is natural to want to shower him with gifts when he arrives. Jesus tells us that the best way to do that is to shower the hungry, homeless and the stranger with gifts. By bringing gifts to needy people, we will in essence be like the Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus.
This parish has a proud tradition of doing just that through the Advent Giving Trees. There are trees in the Stewardship Center, a wreath in Clare Hall and for the first time this year we will also have a tree in the Community Center. Please pick up one or two ornaments specifying a gift of time, talent or treasure for someone in need. Many of our outreach ministries are asking for specific prayers or items to make a difference in the lives of someone who is struggling.
After all, it is Christ who is the person in need. Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day and many other prophets for peace have urged us always to see Christ as the one standing in the breadline or as the stranger asking for shelter.
While we anticipate the birth of Jesus, let us keep the Kingdom in mind. It is the mission of our Church; it is our ultimate goal. When we live out the Church’s social teaching, when we love the least in the land, we help bring about—through God’s grace—the Kingdom here and now.