A kingdom not of this world

In John’s Gospel, when Pontius Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king, Jesus replies, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Today, on the last Sunday of the Church’s year, we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. But Jesus is a different sort of King to the rulers of this world; he is a Good Shepherd who knows and loves every member of his flock. And the kingdom of heaven is very different to worldly kingdoms.

Today’s Gospel reading shows Jesus seated on his throne of glory, to judge  the whole human race. People of all nations will stand before the seat of judgement. Jesus tells his disciples that they will be judged by how they treated ‘the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.’ Did they feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty? Did they welcome the stranger and give clothes to the naked? Did they visit those who were sick or in prison? These are the values of the kingdom of heaven; not power or money, but care for the poor and needy. This is how we will be judged – not on our words, but on our care for others.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a distance between people, in many ways. In these strange times, it is more difficult to reach out to our neighbours. But there are still ways that we can show our care and concern for one another,  using technology or by more old-fashioned means. This is what the Lord asks of us. These are the ways that we help to build the kingdom of heaven in the world.

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