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)
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
November 22, 2020
Ezekiel opens today with the Lord assuring his people, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.” We find comfort in these words. We find hope in knowing that the Lord is watching over us.
Yet, we might ask why God is saying He will tend his sheep in this particular passage. Ezekiel became a prophet of the Lord as the Babylonian Exile began. The people in Israel find themselves in stressful times.
The Lord had appointed people to shepherd his people. This would include both religious leaders and government leaders, including the king. The Lord appointed them to look after and tend his sheep. They failed to do so.
Thus, the Israelites are defeated by the Babylonians. It is in this time that the Lord says to them, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”
He goes on to assure them that He “will rescue them…I myself will pasture my sheep.” He will seek out the lost, strayed, injured, and sick. Why? Because He loves them.
The 23rd Psalm is the most well-known psalm. I think this is because it assures us of the Lord’s help. This hope is summed up in the first line, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Jesus is indeed our king and not just our king, but the king of all, the king of the universe.
David was the king of Israel. As king, he held great power. Yet, he realized that his rule was not absolute. He knew that his authority as king came from God who is the true shepherd. David put faith before politics. Remembering that we pray for religious freedom.
King David is seen as the author of the 23rd Psalm. Remember that David was literally tending sheep when God sent Samuel to anoint David king (1 Samuel 16:11). David knew what it meant to be a shepherd.
In the beginning of the 23rd Psalm, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” There are people who think that the latter part means that if they follow Jesus, they will have everything they want.
I offer a different possibility. When we follow the Lord as our shepherd, we do not want as much. When we let the Lord lead and guide us to right paths, we realize some of the things we wanted aren’t important. So, we stop wanting them.
Returning to our passage from Ezekiel, the Lord also says, “I will judge between one sheep and another.” There will be a judgment. Have we followed the Lord?
Today, Jesus gives us more information about the judgment that will occur “when the Son of Man comes in his glory” and sits “upon his glorious throne.” Jesus speaks of the criteria for how “he will separate them one from another.”
How will we be judged? By what we have done for others. Have we fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the ill, and visited the imprisoned?
These are the Corporal Works of Mercy. I have a video presentation on my website (The Journey to Jesus: Acts of Mercy) where I talk about the Corporal Works of Mercy as well as the Spiritual Works of Mercy. That video is 1 ½ hours so I won’t repeat it all here.
Suffice it to say here that the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is love our neighbor. We do both when we care for those in need because, as Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
We care for those in need as individuals and as a church. An example of this is our Giving Trees. With the Coronavirus around, we are having to modify how we do the Giving Tree, but we are still doing it to care for our neighbors.
Our church has a long history of helping others. Catholics established many hospitals. Catholic Charities helps feed the poor in many places. Catholics started the university system to help educate people to have better lives. Religious freedom issues today can make it difficult for our Catholic institutions to continue but we do what we can to care for our brothers and sisters. We do this to follow Jesus as our king.
We do so seeking eternal life for ourselves and our brothers and sisters. We love God and we love our neighbor.