Christ the King and Sins of Omission

Posted by James Hahn on

Sunday November 26th, 2017

Feast of Christ the King

Isn't it interesting that the Gospel doesn't read like this....


"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For you gave in the collection basket and you helped with the festival, and you were on a committee and you never missed Mass, you didn't kill anyone and you didn't drink too much, and you didn't do drugs and didn't commit adultery, and you were pretty nice to your family, friends and neighbors"

and

"Then he will say to those on his left,'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. You were in a gang and you murdered, gambled your family's savings and drank your inheritance, committed adultery and stole from work, used drugs, gossiped, cheated, lied, and you did all sorts of evil."

No, the Gospel doesn't read like that today. Rather, its message is far more challenging than simply avoiding what we ought not. do and being a good person.

In fact, believe today's Gospel passage completely destroys my "but I'm a good person" argument. I often like to compare myself with others and say, "well, at least I'm not like this person. At least I'm not - murdering, stealing, committing adultery (insert potential mortal sin here)." However, this passage mentions none of those sinful things and yet I still see folks cast into "the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels."

Most of us grow up learning about the sins we shouldn't commit. We are taught to follow the Ten Commandments and avoid doing evil things. Unfortunately, we are not catechized on the very troubling "sins of omission" which are apparently just as, if not more, deadly to the soul.

In today's Gospel Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad. His criteria is not based on the sinful things that were or were not done. Instead, the deciding factor is whether one did or did not do the good things that should have been done. 

Those who are rewarded with the blessedness of Heaven are rewarded for the good that they did in this life out of love for Christ. They saw Jesus in each and every person. They did not judge as to whether they were worthy of their love. Rather, they loved them because God loved them. They loved them because they saw God in them. We need not think further than Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta for a striking example of this in our day.

Likewise, those who are punished are punished because of the good that they could have done but failed to do because of their inordinate love for self and disdain for others. They saw the need and passed it by. They saw Christ in others but turned away. They judged, "I wonder what he did to end up naked, thirsty, hungry, homeless, or imprisoned?", and in doing so brought about their own judgement.

Those who are rewarded are rewarded for following that law which is above all other laws, the law of charity. Those who are punished are punished for their disregard of that law.

This is, unfortunately, a frightening revelation to me. I have always focused on avoiding sin yet here I find that a life of holiness is not based solely on avoiding sin but also on doing good. The "goats" were cast into the fire not because they had done some evil thing directly but because they avoided doing the good they could have done. Their sin is one of omission.

I also have to be careful not to make this into a social justice Gospel. What I chose to do for my brothers and sisters must come from the heart, a heart full of love for God. As Saint Paul says, "If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing."(1 Cor 13:3) I must learn to see Christ in each one of them just as God sees Christ in me. If He can look upon me, wretched as I am, as His own son, surely I can look upon the least of these as my brother or sister. 

Lord, as I approach this time of Advent, a time of prayer, penance, and preparation, help me to see You not only in the Christ child but in everyone. Help me to see You in the least of my brothers and sisters and reach out to their needs. Help me to reach out to them as though I were reaching out to You in the crib or on the Cross.

Lord, reveal to me this week an opportunity to serve the least of my brothers. Open my eyes to the needs of others around me and give me the grace to respond willingly and lovingly to those needs.

FROM THE SAINTS - "We will be judged on the degree and quality of our love." - Saint John of the Cross, Spiritual Sentences and Maxims, 57



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