Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year A
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
November 23, 2014
Today is the last Sunday of our liturgical year before we began a new year with Advent next week. So, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
We identify Jesus as our king but we don’t call him “King Jesus”. Our readings for this solemnity don’t use the word “king” much. The word found more in today’s readings is “shepherd.”
When we use the word “shepherd” today to describe the role of a human person, generally we are referring to, specifically, our bishop, or more generically, our priests as leaders of our parishes.
In the days of Ezekiel, the role of king was often seen as shepherd of the community. Many kings were failing in this role so God tells the people through the prophet Ezekiel that he himself will shepherd his people. The “will” stands as a promise of what is to come.
The Lord God tells them what it means for him to shepherd them. It starts with the basic idea of tending the sheep but the Lord goes forth to speak of rescuing and pasturing his sheep as He seeks out the lost, brings the stray back, and heals the sick.
As with so many prophecies, this prophecy finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus came as our shepherd to rescue us and lead us back to God.
Jesus himself speaks to us today of another role he performs as “king,” the role of judge. It is for Jesus to separate the good and the bad.
At times we wonder, if Jesus really loves us, why would He really send anyone to Hell? Can’t he just forgive everyone?
The presumption here would be that Jesus wants to send people to Hell. He doesn’t. Jesus wants us to be in Heaven. That’s why He died for us on the Cross. If we end up in Hell, it isn’t because Jesus wanted to put us there. It’s because we live in a way that breaks our relationship with Jesus. It’s not Jesus’ choice that puts us in Hell. It’s the choice we make to sin.
Jesus goes out of His way to make Heaven possible for us. He dies for us. He teaches us. Today he tells us about the criteria by which we will be judged so that we can choose what is good.
What is the criteria? It’s how we treat other people in their own basic needs. What do we do to help the hungry and thirsty; the stranger, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned?
Are we even aware of their needs? Do we make excuses like “if they would just get a job they would be ok?” Or “they brought it on themselves?”
Some do, some are “victims of circumstances” that are beyond their control. Some have made bad choices themselves. Now they repent and want to change but sometimes society doesn’t let them change. Do you?
How would society stop them from changing? Think of the “alcoholic”, if they became sober after many years of drinking, would you even realized they changed or would you assume they still drink?
Returning to our theme for this solemnity of Jesus as our king, Jesus does not seek the power or prestige of a wealthy kingdom. He sets an example of the king as one who serves the needs of His people. A real king shows love for his people. A king does this by caring for his people.
Jesus shows His limitless love on the Cross. Recognizing Jesus as our king, we in turn are called to love God and our neighbor. This is what Jesus teaches us. We accept Jesus as our king by following what he teaches us.