Summary: Anyone who brings us the hope of a new life has the character of a king!
The parable of Matthew 25.31-46 presents the concrete and visible demands of our christian faith. Jesus is presented as the King of the life of the people of God. He has the authrotiy to take an account of our life and to judge a life either as just or unjust. One who feeds the hungry, provides a drink to quench the thirsty, welcomes the stranger, clothes the naked, cares for the sick and visits those in prison is judged as good and just. Those who do not do them are judged as bad and unjust.
The gospel emphasises that the good that we do never goes unnoticed. And those who do good, do it because they are convinced that such works essentially make up their life as human, and not because they are told to do so or because they want to show how good they are. You see, the gospel shows us that we belong to a life and world that lie little above where we presently live. Jesus is the king of this life, because He has revealed it to us and He is the one who shows us the way.
I would like to bring in here the story of the film “Chocolate” directed by Lasse Hallström [Heinrich Jacob, Der Prediger und Katechet, 6/2002. pages. 849-851]. A small, sleepy, and quiet french city. The inhabitants are lower-middle class, strictly moralistic, tied to tradtion, scrupulous and totally unfree internally and externally. No one dares to be different. Everyone goes to church. The mayor runs the city within the framework of rigid rules. He even corrects the Sunday sermons of the parish priest.
A young mother with her little daughter moves into this city and opens a chocolate shop in the time of Lent. She makes delicious chocolates of different types, which once tasted, no one could resist. This lady is energetic, charming, goal-oriented, sensitive and empathetic. She knows well to sell her chocolates. And she captivates the attention of the entire city.
This shop, the lady and the chocolates disturb the people, that too, at a time of fasting. People, starting with someone daring, begin to buy the chocolates. The established, ordered and the regulated life of the city is disturbed. The chocolate shop becomes the meeting point of the people of the city. There is encounter, conversation, friendship, joy and laughter. But there is also opposition. The lady is even threatened to leave the city. But the openness and the trust of the people for the joy and hope she brought into their lives overcome all opposition. And we see the mayor himself quietly climbing a tree to have a look at the chocolates in the shop-window. Finally all come to the shop, mayor and the priest alike. And the priest was ever after free to preach the sermons he prepared.
This story has a deeper symbolic meaning. This lady and the medium of chocolate stand for healing and happiness, for transformation and rebirth, for resurrection and for salvation. Everything in the city changes. There is a new life, a new city and a new world for the people. There begin to show up all the signs of a truly christian community: accepting others, open for friendship with strangers, giving and taking, a communicative relationship with one another and gratitude as a response to the gift of life and togetherness.
Anyone who brings us the hope of a new life has the character of a king. In this sense, the lady of our story bears the character of a king. You see, Jesus wants to make kings and queens out of us, when He asks us to be like this lady. But we might realize in trying to do so that the demands of feeding the hungry, etc. are not that easy. I will show you how. Take feeding the hungry or giving a drink to the thirsty! Is it not our own experience, that we ourselves are an unsatisfied people, inspite of all that we have? And the problem is to come out of our own needs to feel the hunger of others.
Or we take welcoming the strangers! How many of us are in harmony with our own inner selves? Day by day we become estranged from ourselves and from others. We transfer our own fears on to others and make strangers out of even those who are familiar to us. But we are called to make friends out of strangers. Or we take clothing the naked! When we stand exposed in our weakness, we feel naked. In order to cover our own defects and lacks from others, we put on new masks and mantles. That is not all. Often we take delight in exposing others in their lacks, in order to justify ourselves. But we are called to become mantles of dignity upon others.