This past Sunday we celebrated the feast of Christ the King in the Catholic church. This is a reflection I wrote for our school newsletter about this feast day:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal.
– Ezekiel 34
Kings have traditionally had several main responsibilities. Among them a few stand out:
protect his people
treat everyone fairly
allow no injustice
promote peace between rulers
promote honor, justice & piety
However, when most people think of a king, they think of wealth, power and prestige. Imagine for a second that you could be king (or queen!) for a day.
(Pause here and think . . . )
Now, time for a pop quiz—did you focus on:
A) promoting world peace and social justice for all,
B) being able to order people around
C) being able to spend money like there was no tomorrow
D) being one of the most well known people on the planet (or at least in your immediate area)
Chances are that most of us immediately jumped to E) all of the above except for letter A. However, in the readings for Christ the King Sunday (Nov. 20) we are reminded that Jesus is a King unlike any other. In fact, all of the imagery used in the readings for that day centers on seeing Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Instead of being the kind of king that lets people know how special and wonderful and powerful he is, Jesus spends his time being the “A” king of king, one that puts his people first and does everything in his power to protect, to love and to serve.
As the Christ, the Anointed One of God, Jesus of course wields ultimate cosmic power—he was there from the creation of the world, he is the one true foundation for all of reality, and he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords . . . but he did not, as St. Paul tells us, see godly power as something to be grasped and used/abused. Rather, he emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, and lived out most of his live in faithful obscurity.
His kingdom belongs not necessarily to the rich, the wealthy or the popular, but to those that live out their lives as true kings and queens: those who treat others fairly and justly, those who serve others, those who promote peace, those who protect the innocent, and those who promote faithfulness/piety. Jesus reminds us that in our day to day lives we are to live in imitation of him, and that in imitating him we become more fully his body here on earth.
The Gospel passage for the day reminds us, too, that on the last day, when the universe prepares for judgment, our actions will be of paramount importance. Our actions toward our fellow servants—men and women of Christian faith, good will, or no faith at all—will be what ranks us among the kings most trusted servants or among his most lax followers. The Good Shepherd will finally, for one last time, call his faithful sheep home to himself.
As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King this year, let us remember that our King, instead of being a tyrannical ruler or a maniacal dictator, is a fiercely loving protector who will search us out when we have wandered away, who will feed us and protect us, and who will heal our weary souls. May we—as God’s holy nation and royal priesthood—also do the same to those we love and who love us in return.
Blessings & Peace,