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A Happy Ending


Reflection on Mt. 25:31-46


Jesus is seated on the Mount of Olives, His disciples gathered around Him. From the mountainside they can see the city of Jerusalem. He has been speaking about trials, tribulations, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of time. Now He focuses on the Last Judgment. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,” Jesus says, “he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 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…’”


If the disciples could foresee the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world and across the centuries, if they could foresee the impact of Jesus’ words, I am sure they would be amazed. Let us consider just a few examples of those who took His words to heart.


* * *


I think of my own patroness, St. Cecilia. As she lay dying (martyred for her faith), throngs of the poor of Rome came to see her. She had provided for their needs and even now was concerned for their welfare. So, when the Holy Father came to Cecilia’s side, she entrusted them to his care. For I was hungry and you gave me food…


I picture St. Mother Teresa holding a poor man or woman or child, picked up off the streets of Calcutta, and gently placing a cup of water to his or her lips. …I was thirsty and you gave me drink…


Then there is St. Francis Xavier Cabrini, who came from Italy to New York City—herself an immigrant—in order to tend to the Italian immigrants, so many of whom were floundering in their new country and in danger of losing their faith. …a stranger and you welcomed me…


And St. Francis who, if he had nothing else to give, would tear a piece from his habit to clothe the poor. Francis couldn’t bear to see anyone poorer than himself. …naked and you clothed me…


St. Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, began her life’s work when she came across a blind, infirm, abandoned, elderly woman one cold, windy day. Jeanne brought the woman home, cared for her, and even gave the woman her own bed. …ill and you cared for me…


And, the iconic photograph of St. John Paul II comes to mind, where he is seated and speaking with his would-be assassin in prison, offering forgiveness and the mercy of Jesus. …in prison and you visited me.


November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints; toward the end of the month comes our celebration of Christ the King. Into His Kingdom Christ welcomes those who have welcomed Him by professing and living their faith. And what a joyous reception they receive: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”


But we must not forget the other half of the story. There are those who do not welcome Christ, who reject the faith, who are caught up in lives of sin, who harm others or ignore their needs. We need not look far to see the effects of sin and self-seeking, and history can teach us many a lesson about the misery people can inflict upon each other. But the saddest thing of all would be to stand before Christ the Judge and hear, “Depart from me.... For I was hungry and you gave me no food…you did not care for me.” To depart forever from the very One for Whom we were made, in Whom alone we are happy—nothing could be more terrible than this.


So, with both of these pictures before our eyes, let us choose again to become saints, to profess and to live our faith and call others on to sanctity. We have a great family awaiting us in heaven and ready to help us with their prayers even now. And even now, as we live what we believe, we build up Christ’s Kingdom. What joy we will know when we hear Jesus’ words: “Come…. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” For the righteous “will go…to eternal life.” And that will be a happy ending, indeed.

Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR

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