Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King
Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28
Matthew 25: 31-46
On this last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the solemn feast of Christ the King. This feast is the capstone of the liturgical year, using the image of the King as the fullness of Christ’s triumph.
I’ve often reflected that we Americans don’t respond very well to the office of "King." We have no experience of an earthly king so it’s a bit difficult for us to fully appreciate the message of this feast. Nonetheless, we do have some notions about it. We know that kings are respected. They live in rather grand palaces, have servants to take care of many of their human needs, and exercise authority over their kingdom. They usually lead the good life and embody many of the aspirations of their subjects. When they treat their subjects with justice and their people prosper, they’re considered "good" kings. When they are unjust and selfish, they are considered tyrants.
Still, our Scripture readings today give a different view of what Christ’s kingship is. The reading from Ezekiel talks about the Shepherd who is very hands-on with his sheep. He pastures and tends the sheep himself; seeking the lost and healing the wounded. He leaves nothing to others but tenderly cares for his sheep himself.
In the Gospel we hear Jesus’ powerful description of the final judgment. It is only by tending to the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked and the imprisoned, that anyone is saved. Care and service to one another is the hallmark of Christ’s kingdom.
Christ is indeed our King and we are called to model ourselves after him. He gave his life so that we could have life. We are called to give our lives so that our brothers and sisters can have life. Christ is a unique King, indeed. And, we are called to aspire to be (like) him.
Fr. Michael Higgins, C.P. is the director the Development Office for Holy Cross Province and is stationed at Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago.