Reflection for Sunday – November 26, 2023

Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28; Matthew 25: 31-46 
Preacher: Nancy DeRycke

Wow!  I just opened the Scripture readings for today and found it hard not to think the readings were written in today’s world!

Ezekiel speaks God’s warning to the “shepherds” of Israel, who took advantage of and did great harm, battering, not tending or providing safety for the anawim (the defenseless, innocent, poor):  “I myself will tend my sheep.. rescue them from every place they’ve been scattered when it was cloudy and dark.  The lost I will seek out, the stray I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and strong I will destroy…”  And the Gospel’s words:  “Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters and brothers, that you do unto me…”

Could this be meant for what we human beings are doing in Ukraine?…or in Gaza?…or at our Southern Border?… or in our own divided city, country, church or elsewhere?  When I reflect on this warning, I get overwhelmed.  What can you and I really do? 

But it says that God will take the sheep away from the “bad shepherds” and undo the damage. How long, O God?  Sometimes we’re not even sure who the bad shepherds are or what good shepherds can do!?  Do we have to wait for You to do it at the Parousia in the fullness of time? 

Jesus paints a picture of a king coming to judge at the end of time.  But we really are judging ourselves all the time by the way we choose to live; what we choose to do/not do; to notice/not notice.  It’s a question of choosing to “live small” or “live big”—to live generously.  It’s clear that it matters how we treat the poor —the hungry soliciting on street corners; those at our borders; or in our inner city searching for help for better schools or safe living; the lonely up the street; the sick at heart or in body; the older person needing assistance in the grocery store; etc.  It matters how we notice and respond.  We used to call this the “Corporal Works of Mercy.”

The Feast of Christ the King today celebrates the fact that Christ will come.  We are not to sit around and wait for the fullness of time, the “Kin-dom”—when we are all truly kin—we are to be busy living into the fullness by how we live and act now.  Irenaeus wrote: “The Glory of God is (humanity) fully alive,” not cringing on the sidelines, saying I’ll do it someday, or living only for myself and my salvation and needs.

Are you and I saved from “living small” (not noticing the needy or from believing there is nothing I can do to make the world better)?  When we live life “big” or to the fullest, we don’t worry about when it will get better—now is the only time we have.  And it takes all the energy we have to just notice and respond in love—building the “Kin”-dom” inch by inch however we can.

The end is near—the end of “living small.”  We don’t wait for God to do it all or to make better all the mess we humans have created.  Live Big and let God shepherd us, help us live into the fullness of time a little every day.

Nancy DeRycke
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