Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
On the last Sunday in the liturgical year we honor Christ the King. Towards the year’s end, we renew our loyalty to Jesus our Saviour, and for His sake renew our intention of loving our neighbor. The shepherd-theme in the first reading serves both as a motive for our trusting in God’s care for us and to call us to be, each in our own way, co-workers with that great Shepherd of our souls.
A Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace
St Paul visualizes Jesus Christ handing over the kingdom to God the Father at the end of time. This ideal kingdom is not something to be piously hoped for as a future gift, but something to be worked for by Christians in the present time. The full extent of the kingdom is indeed to be hoped for, but somehow it is also in our midst, in the process of becoming. Today’s gospel shows how we are to promote the fuller coming of God’s kingdom in our world. It comes whenever justice is done for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the oppressed. To behave in this way is to imitate the Shepherd-King himself who is presented in our Gospels as one who eases alienation, who feeds, gives rest, heals and makes strong. Among his final words was a promise to the thief being crucified at his side, that he would be enfolded by the eternal love of God, in paradise. The best way to honor Christ our King is to work for the unfolding and promoting of his kingdom. In working for the relief of deprived, oppressed or marginalised people, we are serving Christ in person, because he fully identified with people in need, right up to his final moment in this life. The disciple of Christ the King cannot afford the luxury of living in a gated community, resolutely secure in a fortress, comfortably “keeping myself to myself” with the lame claim that “I do nobody any harm.” To be deaf to the cries of my neighbor in need is to be deaf to Christ. To be blind to the anguish of the dying is to be blind to Christ. To recognize Jesus Christ as our Shepherd-king involves being carers or shepherds in some way ourselves; for the work of the Kingdom goes on until he comes again.