There are times when I feel inspired at mass, and there are other times when I try my best to stay present in mind and spirit as I struggle to keep my mind from wandering everywhere but towards God.
Today I felt inspired.
Prior to entering the church, I turned to my husband and voiced one of the doubts that sometimes flickers into my conscience, especially lately. “What if the historical Jesus did not want to be worshiped and was not actually one with God? Maybe He was just a really special prophet.”
We walked into mass, and I learned that today was not only the last day of ordinary time but also the feast of “Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.” I looked at my husband with wide eyes. as if to say, “I guess I got my answer, at least from the perspective of the Church.”
The Gospel was from the book of Matthew (25:31-46):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
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.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
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.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
The priest talked about the connection between worshiping/loving Jesus as King of the Universe and acting out His will as a result of that relationship. If we truly worship and adore Jesus, then it follows that we will act out his teachings.
I was struck by guilt, by my lack of focus. So many times in the last year I have prayed for God to help me. I have prayed for freedom from my eating disorder and convoluted body image, for the intellect and willpower to excel in medical school, for the compassion to be a good wife and friend to so many. I have prayed for my continued health. I have prayed that I will not have more anxiety and panic. I have worked hard to stay fit and social and involved and up to date on literature and connected to family in the midst of medical school. I have been busting my tail to be enough for myself.
But what have I done for others? What have I done for Jesus? My king of the universe has been my ego. I have been striving to please the insecure little girl inside of me rather than the Christ who allows love to conquer all.
When have I considered the poor? When have I tried to befriend the lonely? Besides as part of my career training, when have I sacrificed my own pleasure to give comfort to another person?
Today I adjust my priorities to honor the King of the Universe, for this is a King that is in the sick and the poor and weak and not in the elite, the beautiful, or the successful.
I pray that you will do the same.