HOMILY Questions on the Final Exam

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1 HOMILY Questions on the Final Exam Father Larry Richards Moderator, Bread of Life Community Homily for the Feast of Christ the King Year A Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-12, Corinthians 15:20-26,28 Matthew 25:31-46 Today we listen to God's Word in Matthew Chapter 25. This is the Gospel in which Jesus gives us the questions and the answers for the final exam. This is when he talks about judgment and how we'll be judged when we stand before him on judgment day. He's telling us very clearly how we'll be judged. It all comes down to -- Dorothy Day said it, and I've said it before -- "We love God as much as the person we like the least." I want everybody to say that with me. "We love God as much as the person we like the least." I want you to say that again: "We love God as much as the person we like the least." Now I want you to reflect on that person you just can't stand. Get a good image of that person in your mind. As you reflect on that person, think about it -- that's how much you love God. A kid came to my room this past week, he was a freshman, and he said, "Father, may I talk to you?" I said sure, and he closed the door and he said, "You know how you always say 'We love God as much as the person we like the least?'" "Yes." Then he started tearing up. I said "What's the matter?" He said, "Do you hate God, Father?" I said, "No, I don't hate God. Why would you say I hate God?" "Because you're always saying, 'I hate kids!'" I said, "I'm kidding! Do you think I'd be working at Prep all these years if I hated kids?" "Well, you just say it all the time that you hate kids and I just thought you might really hate God." So we have to watch what we say, first of all. This kid was really serious. I thought for sure -- who would ever put the two and two together? Isn't it horrible when people hit you in your word? Of course, I do --

2 when kids are frustrating me I say, "Oh, I hate kids" -- and they say, "Oh, we love you Father!" and I say, "You do not! You'd be good if you loved me." But it doesn't work out, does it, parents? It doesn't work at all. I have given over 400 talks on this particular subject, on Matthew 25. I have it on a cross that I wear around my neck, that I've worn since I was in high school seminary and on the front of the cross it says, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers" --it was a sexist cross -- "you do unto Me!" And on the back it has little pictures showing I am naked, I am thirsty, I am alone, I'm in prison, etc. We cannot separate our love of God from our love for each other. If we could just get that, we would start all being saints. But the problem is and I don't know if you've noticed it, we don't even do that well here. I don't do that well. When we come right down to it, we don't do it the way it's supposed to be. What needs to happen is that I should treat everybody in the person of Christ. Period. Let's put it this way: You and I are doing great praise and worship -- an hour every day. We get along real good with those who agree with us. Very nice. Everything is great. But there's that ONE person that every time I see them my stomach turns. It doesn't matter how nice you do all the other things. It doesn't matter how wonderful you praise God. It doesn't matter how you get along with those who love you. God's looking at that one person. The least of the brothers is the least on YOUR list. It's the least on MY list. When we go through the list of the people in our lives, God says that whatever you do to the least of these on your list, that's what you do to me. That can be horrible. At the end of each day when I reflect on my life as to how I'm doing personally with the people on my list -- am I treating them as Christ -- and PLEASE! PLEASE! STOP IT! When you and I create this fantasy world in our lives where we think we're good and holy and it's just these couple of people I can't stand -- if only they would start to see things my way everything would be ok. Just STOP IT!. That's not what God is calling us to. God is calling you to humble yourself and say, "You know what? I'm a sleaze-bucket. You're right! I'm wrong!" Whooo! Isn't that horrible? When I see the way some of you among us fight among yourself, it's ridiculous to me. You write letters to each other and you think you're holy and you judge each other with your letter writing. You think you're all good. CUT IT OUT! STOP IT! It's ridiculous. Make an act of humility. Love each other. I know it's just a few of you. You're right.

3 Last week I talked about standing in the back before Mass and gossiping about each other. STOP IT! That isn't what Jesus calls you to. If I'm in the back gossiping about others and I'm saying I can't stand that person that sure as heck isn't what Jesus is calling me to. Stop it! It's that simple. Jesus, at the end of this time when each of us will be standing before him, he's going to ask us "How did you treat others? Did you love them? Did you gossip about them? Put them down? Did you think you were holier than everybody else and stand in judgment because there I am and "if only you two would know Jesus better then you wouldn't be doing these things." Stop it. There's only one to judge and guess what? I'm not him; you're not him; Jesus is him, only him. Only he can judge any of us. So stop it! Now if people come up to you and say, "Do you really hate God?" "No, why would say that?" "Because of the way you treat other people." Duh,duh,duh. That's a challenge. So first, I want to look at the way we treat each other here in our community. Second, we need to look and see how we treat the poor. The poor in our life, the poor in our world. Again, I'm not talking about poor that constantly that keep begging with gimme, gimme, gimme. It's very clear in the Gospel that we don't just keep giving and giving and giving and these people keep using and using and using. I talked about this last week. Everybody here is called to be GIVING to the Body. Even the poorest of the poor are called to be generous with what they have and be more concerned about others than they are about themselves. But we as a community and we as individuals must be taking care of the poor. We cannot say we are Christians unless we're taking care of the poor. Explicitly. Every month, the first thing I do -- I have a child that I adopted and I had his sister and I had his brother and now I have him -- he's from Mexico. For the last 13 years I've always done that much. I'll never meet the kid, but I'm called before God to know he's my brother -- he's my sister -- I have to take care of the poor. Are you doing anything at all in your weekly tithes to take care of the poor? Are you doing anything on a consistent basis to take care of others whom you will never meet? Because I was hungry, and you gave me food. Listen to that. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. On the side here -- the people who were saved in the Gospel, none of them knew they were going to be saved. Do you hear that? They didn't come before God and say, ok, God, I was good. Now take care of me. None of them knew it. That's why when people talk about once saved, always saved -- "Do you know you're saved, brother?" "No, I don't." "Why not? Don't you believe in Jesus?" "Yes, I do. I just don't believe in me." Because I know I still have the free will

4 to make a decision. I know that just because I fall on my knees and give my life to Jesus -- which you will have an opportunity to do today -- just because you and I do that if I'm not taking care of the poor and I'm not loving others, if I'm not being more concerned about them than about myself I will not be saved and neither will you. It's that simple. If you go down on your knees today and say Jesus come into my heart, be my Lord and Savior but then you don't live it, you will not be saved! I don't care what anybody ever tells you. It's a lie from the devil himself if you think that all you have to do is go down on your knees once and give your life to Jesus Christ. You have to live it. Jesus Christ died for our sins! Yes. And God the Father will ask us why should I let you into heaven and it's going to be because Jesus died for me, but then he's going to say to you, "Prove it." Then you'll have to say, "I took care of the poor, I reached out." The people who were saved in this Gospel today did not know they were being saved. Quite a surprise. Quite a surprise on the other side, too. Look at these words in Matthew's Gospel. I hope none of us ever hears this. Verse 41: "Then he will say to those on his left 'Out of my sight, you condemned, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" I pray God that none of us ever hears that, but I know some of us will if we don't repent. If we don't say, "Jesus, for you to be Lord of my life, for you to be King of my world, for you to be King of kings of all that I am, I have to take care of others, I have to be loving others every day. You and I should not go to bed one day if there wasn't one time that day that you and I went out of our way for another human being, I treated someone I didn't like as if I liked him, I went out of my way for someone I don't know and who will never know me. If I can't think of one thing I did unselfishly, it was a wasted day. Salvation is in Jesus Christ. But once Jesus comes into my heart I must let him live and not I anymore. It's a message that's hard. But if you go back to Matthew's Gospel to Chapter 7, verses 13 and 14. I tell you this today, the very last day of the Church year because of this very line, the very first line I give my children at Prep: "Enter through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to damnation is wide, the road is clear and many choose to travel it. But how narrow is the gate that leads to life. How rough the road and how few there are who find it." The reason there are so few to find it is because there are so few who take the two things we must do: Faith in Jesus Christ, living that faith, being a person of love, who worships him and makes him my king and then I live what I profess with my words by the way I live my life. I take care of the poor. I'm more concerned about others than I am about myself. I don't sit in

5 judgment about anybody because God commands us not to judge. I live that. There are so few who really develop that in their lives. So my job as your pastor is to prepare you for the final examination. As I prepare you for your final examination, it's a little bit hard today. But just like my kids at Prep and some of you are hard on me because I need it, sometimes I'm going to step on your toes just a little now so that when you stand before God in judgment we'll know what we had to do. Get it? Got it? Good! May each of you know his love today and forever. Amen.

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