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Whenever a king walks into a room, the people will honor him, sometimes with bows and other gestures of respect. If Christ is our King, then he rightfully demands our full attention and respect.
We show Jesus the respect he deserves when we come into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacles of our churches. He is present there under the sign of bread. And so we genuflect to him. We also kneel before him as the bread is turned into his body and the wine is turned into his blood at Mass. We bow before we receive him in Holy Communion. After all, we are in the presence of our King — the King of Heaven and Earth — the King of the Universe! My pastor would bow his head whenever he drove by a Catholic Church in reverence to Jesus present in the tabernacle inside.
But today Jesus reminds us that he is not only present under the signs of the bread and wine consecrated at the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass. He is present in the disguise of those who hunger and thirst. He is present in the strangers who are among us (both documented and undocumented). Jesus is hidden among those who need clothing and shelter, not matter who they are. Jesus is present in our hospitals and hospices and in all those who are ill. Jesus is suffering within those who are struggling with COVID-19. He is present in those who are in prison, including those who are bound by the prison of addiction. He is present in our African American Community that suffers from the sin of racism. Whenever we mistreat any one of God’s people, or fail to respect their lives, including the unborn, God hears the bleating of goats, and this never goes well for the goats at the time of judgement.
When we come to Church, we must show proper reverence to Jesus in our tabernacles. If you have stayed away from our Churches because of the current pandemic, then do as my pastor did and bow your head when you pass by one of our Catholic Churches. Jesus is there. But let’s not forget to show reverence to Christ who is hidden in the least among us. We trust in God’s mercy for those times when we have failed to recognize him in the weak, the suffering, and the vulnerable.
In Washington DC there is a soup kitchen that is run by a Christian organization. Before every meal is served, the workers and volunteers gather for prayer. On one such occasion a woman prayed, first giving thanks for the day. She then prayed, “Another day to serve you Lord. We know you’ll be coming through the line today. So, Lord, help us to treat you well.”
May we treat the Lord well by treating each other well. The King of the Universe demands nothing less from us. In other words, let’s be sheep who come to where Jesus is instead of goats who do not know the voice of the Shepherd King.
God bless you and those you love.
And, Happy Thanksgiving. May we realize just how blessed we are and not forget the source of everything that is good.