In today’s Gospel Story for the Feast of Christ the King (Mt 25:31-46) Jesus says what we did or did not do to the least of our brothers and sisters we did or did not do to him. As with all the Gospel Stories, there is both a “majority report”, what the Story has generally been understood to mean over all, and a “minority report”, what the Story says to each of us in the setting of our own daily living. There can be any number of minority report understandings of the stories simply because each of us reflects God differently on our journey, and so might hear the stories say different things.
The majority report sees this Story as what will happen at the end of the world at the Last Judgement. It points to a future date and time, predicts a chronological event, and gives a sort of warning to be ready since we won’t know when it is coming until it happens. Which means we can pretty much keep it all on the back burner. It hasn’t happened in billions of years, so it probably isn’t going to happen in our time.
The minority report, on the other hand, sees the Story not as chronological or historical, but more mythological, offering insight to how I am living here and now when I read or hear it. It’s about me and how I am called to live, not how I think other folks should live so I can feel good about it all. It can be pretty specific, a real experience, and can impact me so powerfully that I might see it in terms of my own apocalyptic last judgement and end of my world — but also the beginning of a new world for me in my here and now. Minority reports are usually very personal, but never private. They always have some reference and involvement with the people who are in our life when we read or hear the stories, maybe even something very specific. Jesus was not all that concerned about showing us how to keep God happy so we can get to heaven after we die. He was concerned about showing us how to live here and now into the fullness for which God is creating us. It is not so much a matter of “pleasing God” or following “God’s will”, as it is a way of living that encourages us to ask what the Spirit is saying to us in the events and people in our every day life.
Often such experiences are triggered by a significant happening in my daily living, the failure of a relationship, the death of someone important to me, some sort of a physical accident, illness, or event, maybe a change of how and where I am living, something that really startles me and gets my attention, such as a cardiac event. What the majority report sees as fear inducing or a threat, I come to know as love filled and encouraging, a warm and caring, yet serious, call to look at where I am, what my priorities are, how I am being invited maybe to take some chances and move in different directions. The Army has a good phrase for something like this: fall back, adjust fire, re-engage.
I might become aware of a relationship, even a partnership, with or in a Good that, while real to me, I just cannot put into words or describe. As I hear Jesus telling me what I did or did not do to/for the least of the people in my life at any given time I did or did not do to/for him, the people in my life take on a whole different depth and dimension as Jesus being present to me, showing me who God is. This means that if I actually refuse to be open to anybody, I am refusing to accept God. This will take some serious prayerful consideration, because it is something very real, especially these days. Learning how to deal with all this is an adventure itself, quite a ride. I’m well aware of my choices and lapses. Seems just about impossible, but then there’s the Spirit, Wisdom, perhaps what we see as the feminine aspect of God.
I can’t just decide one day I am going to like or be nice to everybody I meet. It doesn’t work that way. What Jesus calls me to is a pretty big adjustment to how I’ve been living, well beyond anything I can do of myself. I need to really ask the Spirit to help me see where I have to go, to pray for the wisdom, maybe even the courage to do whatever it is that I am being called to do. I can be sure that the Spirit will respond and I will begin to be aware of even the subtlest changes happening in my everyday living. It is not a matter of telling God how I want to change, to be different, but more along the lines of, “Lord take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, let me say what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way.” (Fr. Mychal’s Prayer). This sort of thing is very real. I might come to find that God’s will is a relationship I work out with God in my everyday choices, and what changes when I try to be open to the Spirit are the values I use to make my choices. Grace is real, and I come to know this in my own experience.
Jesus is serious when he talks about feeding, clothing, visiting the outcast or less fortunate, telling me that how I treat these people is how I am treating him. He is not talking about banal “thoughts and prayers” which sound nice and float around a lot, taking the place of any constructive actions. He means real stuff, hands dirty and maybe bloody as I try to help the hurting, and so I have to ask myself how serious do I want to take Jesus and his teaching? The Spirit speaks to me in my life as it is, so what is She saying to me at my age with my health my living conditions? Perhaps I might beg the grace to be open, to be willing, to wander and wonder, maybe to do something. Who knows? Just sayin . . .