Jesus The Shepherd King
Solemnity of Christ The King, Year A (26/11/2023)
(Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17b; Psalm 23:1-2,2-3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46)
Fr Samuel Odeh
“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar. Today we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ as King of the universe. What kind of kingship or kingly power does Jesus command? What is the significance of accepting Jesus as our king upon our lives? The first reading, the responsorial psalm and the gospel reading use the image and activity of a shepherd to represent God’s telling apart of those loyal to him from those who are not, judging and rewarding them accordingly, and his provident care. God separates the sheep from the goats and provides a banquet for the believer in the presence of their enemies. In the reading from 1 Corinthians, the kingly power of Christ extends even to his victory over death, our last enemy.
Even in our own time the life and work of a shepherd is a very difficult one. In the time of Jesus, the shepherd had to protect himself and the flock from bad weather, wild animals, and armed robbers. The shepherd had to lay down their life for the flock, so to speak. The image of the shepherd is chosen to illustrate the sacrificial love and care that characterizes the kingly power of Jesus. In today’s gospel reading of Matthew’s account of The Last Judgement, the criteria used by the king to accept or reject the members of the flock from entering his heavenly kingdom are some of what we now know in Catholic teaching as The Corporal Works of Mercy: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick and visiting the prisoner. Jesus insists that the believer is to see the person of himself as the Christ, in these persons, the least of his brethren, who can neither help themselves nor pay back the good done to them. It is interesting that it is not pious observances and devotions that qualify or disqualify the flock but acts of unselfish love and care.
How has the kingly power of Jesus taken over my life? Am I committed and dedicated to a life of service in the name of Christ to the needy, the poor, the vulnerable, and the underprivileged? Am I able to see the person of Christ in other persons, especially those he refers to as the least of the brethren? Am I ready to allow myself to become a vessel and channel of Christ’s kingly power and care? We pray today that the reign of Christ will completely rule our hearts and take over our lives. May the ends of the earth be touched by his saving power.
“..you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28).