1st Reading - Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
2nd Reading - 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28
Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
Gospel - Matthew 25:31-46
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
REFLECTION ON THE READINGS
The image of a king has many resonances, positive and negative. For the weak and vulnerable, a king stands for security. Often a king represents orderly government. For the ambitious, a king stands in the way of power. For colonies such as the United States in its infancy, the British king stood for tyranny. For a woman, kingship may be regarded as oppressive patriarchy. For a child, it might represent a “happily ever after” world.
We celebrate Christ the King as the final Sunday of the liturgical year. What kind of king is Jesus? Is he the stern, bearded judge we find in the apse of churches in the Dark Ages? Is he the gem-clad monarch awaiting our obedience? Is he the secluded and unapproachable ruler available only to saints?
Scriptures offer a richer fare in the understanding of kingship. Among others, the prophet Ezekiel portrays God’s kingship in terms of a shepherd. Consider that shepherds are not the cleanest of folk, and hardly wisdom figures. Shepherds, however, rule their flock by the sound of their voice and by their devoted care for each sheep.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians portrays Christ as a conquering hero—a princely son who has overcome death and destroyed all the false and evil doers of the universe.
Matthew’s colorful portrayal of the Last Judgment presents Christ as a prince who has freely become a pauper, disguising himself in the person of the least among us—the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the prisoner, and the sick.
As we know, Jesus denies being a king in this world’s sense. This led to his being forsaken by some followers, and being executed by politically sensitive Roman authorities.
If we must use the image of kingship in describing Christ, we must understand that it is a subverted image. Christ is a king who serves rather than being served.
Christ’s power is revealed in weakness. God’s plan is unveiled in apparent failure, In Jesus, God reigned from a tree.
- Father Bartholomew Daly, mhm