You heard it proclaimed today in the Christ the King Gospel: The Lord Jesus is a King who takes His realm seriously. He has called His people to acts of care for one another here on earth. He wants us trained in His Ways before bringing us to Glory. +   In His Kingly visitation, He will show how He has been taking note of how each one of us have been living under Him. Have we been doing well or not? We may not have figured it so—but the King has been carefully watching everything and always of ours.  Whatever you have done or will do for the least of persons—and even in the seemingly small actions of love, pouring forth out of your heart and in faith—Jesus counts it as if being done for Him.” Likewise, that which we have not done for others, in which He had called our hearts to act, our neglect of others’ needs will also count as a neglect of Him.

We can be careful to hear this message as what The Lord God wants of our hearts, and not just simply of doing good things.

Jesus says it in today’s gospel parable of Matthew 25, about our measuring up for the end times and getting prepared for heaven. The message is this: God measures our actions of love, and that even one special act done by us can make all the difference in our lives or to others. In another way of saying it, when we turn to bless others, we are also actually doing ourselves a big favor in the sight of God. We are aiding the Kingdom of God to break through.

I will share of a special action that I think was inspired of God in the life of my brother and I. While it was not a St. Paul taken by the Light conversion moment, but more of a next step in more of a St. Peter or St. Timothy gradual conversion experience, it remains one I remember, especially in this week of the year. One past Thanksgiving decades ago, it was my brother Kevin and I who got the idea to go to New York City to see my grandma in that week, as a thanksgiving gift, since she was unable to travel and then living alone there as a widow at about 73 in age.  Kevin and I were teens—17 and 13. It was our idea to do it (or God’s inspiration, actually), and our parents agreed to send us up—going by Amtrak and subway. Kevin and I stayed for a few days with her in NYC as to help her feel loved during the holiday.

In staying with her at her apartment, we asked her if the two of us (as teenagers then) might go and do some sightseeing in Manhattan one morning and afternoon, with our going to Noon Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She consented. When we came back, she asked us what we choose to do. We said that we saw a few things, went up Rockefeller Plaza tower, bought some music at a store, then went to Mass, and there noticed a lonely-looking senior citizen man sitting nearby us. We said: ‘Grandma—we noticed that, like you, there are other seniors alone on the holiday in the city. At the sign of peace, we went over and invited him to have a lunch meal after Mass with us at a nearby diner. We’d be paying for his meal, not that he was poor or anything, but that he looked in need of some company. He agreed to it.  We found out at lunch how it took him in complete happy surprise and he told us that it was just the thing he needed. His wife had died that Autumn and it was suddenly a very lonely Thanksgiving for him. We said to him that our Pop had died two years or so beforehand and that we were old enough now to go visit Grandma on our own, as God was teaching us to care for others in the holiday break.’ We said to him: “It seems that God has added you to our care package to the city.”  He confirmed to us that it was surely a God-send and that we came along at just the meaningful time for him, and likely as well for our grandma. We replied that he had come by at the meaningful time for us, too, as we were learning as growing Catholic boys to recognize better the need of others, including single-again seniors.  Looking back, I think it was a significant step for Kevin and I in our Faith.

He wrote a letter to us and thanked us again, and mentioned that the gospel for that Sunday was the one that said “whatever you do—like in visiting a stranger—is counted as if doing it for Jesus.” He wrote: “It’s so good to see our youth living the gospel!”


The Christ the King Gospel chapter of Matthew 25 is about our getting into Heaven, by Jesus’ recognition of us by our loving actions of response to His call. Last Sunday’s gospel at Mass was of the first 13 verses of Matthew 25 was of the parable of the maidens who were ready with their lamps lit to action even at late night, as opposed to those lazy other maidens who did not act so prudently and who were not ready to go and do what was expected when called. It concludes that those in the actions of the Holy Spirit (with the oil-of-God-reliance in their lamps) reach fulfillment in the kingdom of God, and are led to the wedding supper of the Groom (Who is Jesus), while the lazy, slothful, distracted people get left out. So be vigilant in spirit.  Do so out of love for the wedding with Christ to come, like the wise maidens.  Do also look for ways to love like Christ out to the needy world, like the wise folks in today’s parable.

Rather than hear the gospel as some 2000 year old story, picture yourself as a worker at a resort in our times, and the word is out that the CEO of it and a fleet of others is coming to your resort island this week. The park island shall be closed to the public, but the CEO (whom nobody knows what he looks like) will be bringing a couple-hundred guests to the park at all expenses paid—which overnight accommodations—to enjoy something that they usually cannot afford—even while the CEO makes his rounds. In the evening, they will gather for a grand dinner at the big tent on the hotel green with his guests.  When the guests have checked out at Noon the next day, then the CEO will address the whole island resort staff.

I base this next imaginary story on some real experiences. I went to a top island resort, open to the public, at Mackinac Island, at Michigan’s U.P. (Upper Peninsula) over a grand bridge to an island which accesses to another island on Lake Michigan, visited by ferry boat or water vessel, usually with reservations for the grand hotel on the island.  It’s barely affordable—one night of big cost—but it’s worth it to many folks for the experience. Mac Island is a place with just horses and carriages, or bicycles, or your own two feet to get around. The employees there are to serve you into a day or days of quietude and picturesque times on the lake, on the wooded trails, meals and lodging in a big old quaint hotel, walks to lookouts or seated times on beach places for views of Lake Michigan and lots of clear sky and water. The island is for people to relax and enjoy and be with people who are comfortable and peaceful. Some spoil it, like some jerk (in the day I was there) who snuck a big drone on the land and had it take swerve around in the sky for an hour, before officials came and stopped him. I was concerned how some employees had just watched him misact, rather than to immediately intervene so to preserve the old-fashioned quaintness. Guides in the island resort are even instructed to ask people to refrain from cell phone and electronic device usage, so to maintain the peace and the charm of the place.

I am writing this story (of the next paragraph coming) also in thinking back to long ago when I worked at a store in the holiday time and was told that a high CEO of the company was suddenly visiting our DelMarVa DC store that weekend, even as we were in holiday rush time. It got almost every employee jumpy about why he was coming there, and of what or who he was evaluating in the visit.  Was he or she cutting staff? What did he look like?

I turn those experiences into this story called “The King of Hearts.”

There was a place where people worked—much like Mackinac Island—in which the staff were to create for the visitor a fantasy- island type of natural wonder and exemplary care. The island place was styled about after the medieval fairs, with a walled city and castle and then a village on a big lake. The welcoming village, with the ferry boat stop, had greeters and guides about, flanked by flute players and stringed instrument musicians to delight one’s ears, and in the air were sweet smells of baking and cooking at old-fashioned eatery restaurants. The horse-with- carriage riders awaited to take you to anywhere on the island, or for a general tour, to go see the village blacksmith, or pie maker, cobbler, jewelry maker, or see to stoic sentries at the castle drawbridge, or to go see inside the castle. The resort island employed many to be book store and museum attendants, horse trainers and carriage drivers, cooks, costumed servers, cleaners and horticulturalists (people who keeping the gardens grasses and woods and beaches cared for).

One Summer day, Heart’s Island, as this fantasy place was called, had the park closed to the public, but to stay in operation, as the owner had written to say he was coming to visit it for the day or two. Yet he said also how he had granting a few hundred guests to come join him at the park, all expenses paid, with overnight lodging and meals, to each have a free resort vacation. A select few other entertainers might be coming along, too. He, the owner, would be there among them all, but that didn’t help them at Heart’s Island, for no one knew what the owner looked like.

Heart’s Island Park opened up for its special guest-only day and overnight, and the employees realized how they had better be at their best for when the owner would come by.  Some took this to be more of a pretense effort and show, as they worked at the resort but did not share in its spirit. They could fake exquisite service for a day, being on for when the big boss came by. Yet usually they were slipshod about their work.  That described of about one-third or one-half of the workers there. Imagine yourself in their ranks in the story.

As the island resort opened, the employees noted a wide variety of types of guests that came in the gates to be served, but there was no clear sight of a CEO type figure entering in. They noticed a small few persons coming in some costume, one that showed up as a big playing card of the King of Hearts. One gatekeeper said: ‘I guess it’s an extra street performer.’ The King of Hearts character walked all over the whole resort island, meeting many people. It must have been an outgoing person or extravert in that costume, thought a fellow worker. Or someone looking to impress the owner, as so many people seemed to be planning to do in their own way. The King of Hearts guy got around to the castle, the jewelry shop, the blacksmith, to some restaurants or eateries, and to lots more people and places. If you were to notice him and stare awhile, then you would have seem him taking delight in seeing all the free customers having a grand time. Yet, very few resort workers paid him much attention. Except for one park employee: Caren, with a C.

She saw him mostly ‘performing’ for the employees, and in his ‘act’ he pulled out magically a fresh, exquisite red rose in a tiffany glass pin, and quickly adorned it on the employees Heart’s Island uniform. (How’d he do that? A rose offered out of thin air!)  But to some employees he pulled out a 3 of spades card, and in a quick second affixed it to their uniform, as so it would not come off.  How odd?! What’s it mean?  To guests in the park, he offered king of heart cards with a changed back side of the card which had listed advised places and things and food in the park to experience—individualized—but how did he know what to put down for each? Caren wondered for all of this, but mostly was keeping to her own job of directing people in the park in her friendly-greeter (“ask me”) role.

Near the end of the day, getting towards sunset, this special entertainer figure, the King of Hearts, met this park employee on an island trail, and she said: “Do you need any help? Like, in directions to the front entrance or a carriage stop or a gentlemen’s rest room? Or, I suppose, you work here, like me—and don’t require help, but I have not seen you in the park before, so—anyway, Hello!“  He answered: “Yes, hello to you, too.”  She replied: “I caught sight of you a number of times, sir, oh King of Hearts guy. You seem like a wonderful person. You’ve showed lots of love for people—so the card’s heart sign on you is a good one.”

She wanted to ask about how he did that rose trick, but he had already pulled one out and put it on her, while answering back: “I observed you, too, as quite the caring person, Caren.” (She was surely surprised to be noticed, or called by name, saying “Oh really?!”) He said: “May I ask you for a moment to talk at this park bench here?” He motioned to a nearby one, and they took a seat. “Of course, uh, King! Or do you have a name to call you?”  Caren wondered, and he said back: “I have a Hebrew name, but you can call me Joshua.” He smiled and said: I loved the way you helped people today. It’s in just the way the founder of this park wanted people to be treated.” They talked awhile and she kept the conversation warm and interested in him. She was open about herself, too. She told him that her fellow employees in the park just were all too worried about impressing their boss today, as they were acting all formal and focused on that one thing. She admitted how some fellow workers were putting on a pretense show, too, acting better than normal.  He responded: “Yes, I have noticed it a lot. They are not too friendly today, as I have tried to talk to the blacksmith today, when he was alone—and he cut me off, saying he was too busy making something that he would show to the owner today to impress him, though I noticed the blacksmith already had a whole display already of works out…. then there was the stable horsemen, who were sitting outside idle at the stable since the horses were all out, and I tried to converse with them, but they said they didn’t have the time… there was an artist painting the coastal landscape, and I came up alone to them, and they did not want to talk to me either—commenting that I was a distraction from their finishing their latest painting, one to show to the resort boss when he passed by… and they did not look up at me a second time, upon seeing my garb as the King of Hearts.” A tavern waitress was curt to him, not looking once at him, serving lukewarm coffee and a wet danish.

“But,” retorted Caren,” all the park workers here are supposed to be kind to the visitors and one another here. That painter lady was supposed to stop and chat about her painting with you, engaging you in her talent and works. That’s what our owner asked of us in working here at this fine place. Well, she wasn’t brushing off the boss, but she should have treated you well, anyway. Maybe she or the others thought you were a co-worker and street performer, and not worth their effort…” The man kept speaking to Caren, after a long pause, saying: “So, yes, the jeweler was too busy making something to stop and talk with me, and handed me a rock with a shamrock on it from a shelf, but all I wanted was a short conversation, while the shop was empty. Yet I can tell you it was not true with half the workers here, as they were great, like you, and I am refreshed to see that friendliness was your choice.” She jumped in, “Excuse me, Joshua, but you are obviously a nice person. You deserved a courteous response from every worker. I am sorry for them who did that to you—on behalf of Kings Island Resort. It’s plain and obvious how they all were concentrating on their talent as so to impress the owner, who, by the way, I haven’t seen all day.” He said, “Yes, you have.” She went on, “those folks all have a definable talent, but I don’t, I have no talent, for I just walk around and help people… of which I am glad to do, as a greeter and guide to the island resort, and I am glad I was hired to work here…(she paused, and asked next) By the way, are you an employee, and have you seen the owner? You must have, for then you say he or she has been here with me?! Did you do a card trick or juggle balls or tell jokes for the owner—or present a magical gift–and did they like it? And, what’s the owner like?”

He answered, smiling, “it’s a lot of comments and questions! The last one I’ll answer first. The owner is patient and kind… a nice person, as you say… surprisingly sensitive and down-to-earth…and no, I am not an employee, but this King of Hearts has noticed you all day using a talent. You said you had none, but I disagree. Your talent is how you genuinely cared for everyone, as you have done right now here for me. You are engaged in a friendly conversation with me. That caring heart is worth more than impressing with a “talent.” As if you were a great painter with a canvas to show and gift to me. Your heart is talented; loving is your gift or talent…that’s what I notice! By the way, I have the jeweler’s gift to me, the sham-rock. Yet even a look of care up at me or the asking of my name would have been the greater gift.”

She said: “Joshua is your name. You said it was first or once a Hebrew name. Which is what?”

“It’s Yeshua.” He said, adding: “And I am the owner of this park, and as for my garb, this King of Hearts man you see? Well, I am THE King of Hearts, as I am Heart’s Island co-founder and owner, and it’s why I wore this ironic King of Hearts garb today. But also to be undercover.  I established Heart’s Island Resort so for people to get back in touch with the simpler things of life and away from artificiality and its distractions, which blocks them from hearing my call to embrace this simplicity and live for friendship, not so much for things. I do come here to this resort much of the time in the disguise of a guest, and I observe my people. Though I own the place, I also own a whole lot more—and in fact the greatest paradise of all. I am even the King of Kings, King of the Universe they call Me, who know Me.

Today I came to a less-crowded smaller number at Heart’s Island, so to reach my employees—in a conversation with them—that they might connect heart-to-heart with me. Yet they were looking to impress some other version of “the boss” today, and missed a chance…. but you did not miss it, instead you got it! I live at another much more amazing and innocent and pure placing, where the people who know and love me, say I am the King of Hearts. I have offered them, as I will offer to you today, a future plan for you to a great paradise offer of which only I can propose! You are faithful in the smaller things here at King’s Heart Resort, but I have greater things in which I will later entrust you with.  The owner of the red rose from the king of hearts has that promise. The owner of the 3 of spades card has only what their small hearts can accept for now.

As for first things, I propose friendship, and you have already accepted Me. Thank you. It’s good of you. Even as you have accepted to love and serve others here in My Name, so also you do for Me.”  Whatever you do and have done, in kindness to others here, that you have also done for Me, Caren.”

She said, in astonishment, “My owner! My Lord! The King of Hearts!”  She bowed and curtsied, saying: “It’s good to be here! I don’t know what to say! It’s a pleasure to meet you, Yeshua! Uh, what do I say now? ‘Er–Do you like the park, generally? And me?  Did anyone else please you, I dearly hope, among the others working at the park?”

He answered: “I like the park very much, though it does get a bit lost sometimes from its purpose I set. Did you see the other card person here today? The one going around as a Joker? (She nods.) He tries to undo My purposes.  He, too, normally is under-cover and unrecognized. He tries to mess with my guests or employees every day, so as to interfere with My offer. What too often occurs, is that people in this Heart’s Island place still don’t not hear My call to friendship and back to honesty and innocence of life…“

He continued: “I like that the park were serving only the poor today, and most of my employees did an adequate job for them. I love that service. I showed my recognition with the rose, or my disappointment with the #3 card of spaces.

Tomorrow I shall call all the workers together, after the guests have left, and I will reveal Myself to them.

Then I will separate the good from the not-so-good.  Some will keep working here for Me, others will be asked to leave, as not doing the purpose for which this resort was made.

You and a number of others really pleased me today, especially when I ‘wasn’t not obviously looking’ and I say to you now, since you know Me now, past my disguise: Well done my good and faithful and heart-loving servant!

“As for you: I love you, Caren.  Heart to heart.  I have plans ahead for you to dwell in the Owner’s realm forever.  A true paradise is where your new life is leading you to…. As for you blurting that “you don’t know what to say” –your heart does the talking and it is speaking love and it blesses me.

I am seeking people heart-to-heart. I am the King of Hearts.  My upper kingdom is of the pure of heart. Blessed are you, Caren.


Postscript: The owner of the island resort came on this particular day to recruit for another fantastic paradise place He owned. Something of an amazing and higher experience. To join him in another enterprise hardly even believable, but wondrous. But He was looking for the right kind of person. The kind that would love from the heart, and be loved to the heart.  The kind of person who knows what service means, and who works for him without realizing it, yet works honestly and well to His good pleasure.

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