Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Are all people in the kingdom of heaven right now? To most of us, it doesn’t feel that way. On the other hand, we have a feast of Christ the King, and we sometimes call Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So, how far does the heavenly power of Christ our King extend? Doesn’t God govern the entire universe? Of course he does, but a creature that has a free will is free to reject and deny God’s sovereign authority, even though he can never defeat it. Even though God’s dominion extends over us, we remain free to reject it. Therefore, we can say, in a very important sense, that, right now, not everyone is in the kingdom of heaven.
Will there ever come a time, perhaps at the parousia, when all people will, at last, enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The answer of Jesus Christ to this question, according to today’s gospel from Matthew, is a solemn “no.” Jesus foretells that he will say to “many” people, despite their protests: “I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.”
This gospel warns us that many people will unhappily disagree with God’s final judgment. This should not surprise us, given how easily we already slip into the habit of giving ourselves the final and last judgment. When given the choice between two judges, one being infinitely more wise and loving than the other, what could be more foolish than to insist on our own judgment over and against the judgment of God? It would be a good practice for us right now, today, to try to seek and accept God’s judgments over our own.