Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year A
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
November 26, 2017
Today is our last Sunday before we begin a new liturgical year. That means today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
To me, it is fitting that we do this. As we come to the end of the liturgical year, our readings invite us to think about the end times. It is fitting that as we do so, we think about who Jesus is to us. What does it mean to call Jesus our king?
To us kings are leaders of countries. In Jesus’ days on earth, kings ruled as least regions if not countries. If you read stories of kings from the Old Testament, we see that kings were not just political leaders. They were also leaders in battle, often establishing the country or taking power through military conquest.
In this sense, King David was seen as the greatest of the Israelite kings. He is the one who, through God’s hand, built up the earthly kingdom of Israel to the greatest status it ever held. Ever since the days of King David, the Israelites expected a new king like David. The prophecies refer to this king as the Messiah.
Jesus is the Messiah but not a political king like David. He did not lead the Israelites into a battle with the Romans. Instead, Jesus leads us in battle against the evil one. On the Cross, Jesus is victor over our sins.
As we think of Jesus as king, our first reading and psalm refer not to kings but shepherd. In the days of the prophet Ezekiel both kings and priests served as shepherds. Unfortunately, neither were doing their “jobs” as God intended.
What does a shepherd do as a farmer? The shepherd is there to “look after” and “tend” the sheep. Kings and priests were appointed by God to care for the people. Many of them fell short of doing this. So, in the first reading, God proclaims, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” He says, “I will rescue them…I myself will pasture my sheep…I will seek out…I will bring back.”
God does not abandon his people. Jesus will never abandon us.
The kings and priests went astray when they began to worry about themselves more than the people in their kingdom. They came to want the people to serve them rather than for them to serve the needs of the people. Jesus sets us straight on this when he says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28, cf. Mark 10:45).
In giving his life for us on the Cross, Jesus gives us the perfect example of what it means to be a king who serves his people.
We might think it is all nice for Jesus but what does it mean for us? We might want to say we are not kings and might want to say you are not priests, but we are all called to serve.
What happens at a baptism after the water is poured over the person’s head? The priest (or deacon) anoints the newly baptized with the Sacred Christ saying, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”
We are all called to be priest, prophet, and king. Everyone can serve as a priest in the sense of making sacrifices for one another.
We can all be prophets by sharing God’s truth and love, helping others to know Jesus.
We can all be kings in serving one another. Think of the sacrifices a parent makes for their children or what sacrifice (what do you give up) to help someone else.
With this in mind, let us turn to our gospel reading. This reading reflects the “end judgment,” fitting as we reach the end of the liturgical year and think about the end times. It has the king judging the people for how the people will spend eternity. It is not for us to judge. This judgment is for Jesus as our king.
What criteria will we be judged by? Jesus provides the answer today. We will be judged by how we serve others. Do we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty? We have our Poor Fund that you support. Some of you help the hunger through the Community Food Closet or Stop Hunger Walk?
Do we welcome the stranger? Think of the migrants and the ministry offered to them? What about the Hispanics and Latinos who have made this area their permanent home?
How about visiting the sick? Besides me visiting people for the anointing of the sick, June visits the hospitals and homebound. We have parishioners who take Communion to the homebound. Some to just one or two people. Some to groups of people in nursing homes and assisted living. Likewise, there is our jail ministry.
What do you do? What can you do? It might be as simple as talking to a sick friend on the phone if that is what you are capable of. It may simply be praying for those in need if that is what you are able to do.
Do what you can not to get into Heaven but out of love, the same love that Christ shows us.