[Reflection on The Word] Homily for the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (The Solemnity of Christ the King).
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17/Psalm 23/ 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28/ Matt. 25:31-46
Theme: You Did it to Me
The focus of today’s feast is to acknowledge the universal kingship of Jesus and his bid to hand over the kingdom to his father, so that God will be all in all. It must be emphasised that Christ’s kingship is a shepherd kingship as opposed to the political kingship the Jews expected and our kinship system today.
The first reading of today presents Jesus as a shepherd king, one who comes to judge his flock. The shepherds of Israel have failed in their duty as shepherds. He says “The Lord says this; I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view…” (Ezekiel 34: 11-12). As a shepherd king, his heart goes out for those sheep that are scattered in order to gather them.
We are presented with the qualities of a good shepherd; one who goes in search for the lost sheep. The good shepherd does not discriminate as regards race, colour, tribe, and status to mention but few. Indeed, he identifies with the vulnerable in society. (This idea is captured in the gospel reading of today). He says, “I shall look for the lost one, bring back the stray, bandage the wounded and make the weak strong. I shall watch over the fat and healthy. I shall be a true shepherd to them.” This text already presupposes that Jesus had a fundamental option for the poor and vulnerable in society and this is the duty of every Christian especially the shepherd of God’s flock. Judgment then will be pronounced on those who fail to identify with the vulnerable.
The Psalmist identifies the shepherd as presented in the first reading, with the Lord. This shepherd does not only provide our needs but our wants; a shepherd who does not lord it over his flock but humbly prepares a table for his flock in the presence of their enemies. Can you imagine Jesus putting on an apron and serving you at table? This is the king we celebrate today. Indeed, Jesus is the hope of the hopeless.
The gospel reading presents to us vividly the criteria for judgment. It is how we treat the vulnerable, namely the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, that will grant us admittance into God’s presence. The community that fails to care for its vulnerable is a recipe for disaster. The Church community is no exception. Indeed, Jesus makes it clear to us that it is the vulnerable who will guarantee our ticket to heaven. By way of example, he spent the greater part of his ministry bringing joy and hope to them. This is the example Jesus left the Church. How far have we lived these ideals?
The encyclical letter which brought about this feast called QUAS PRIMAS among other things has this to say to all the faithful of Christ, “The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to reveal truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls…”
The pope reminded all nations and their rulers of their duty in the following words, “Nations will be reminded by the annual celebration of this feast that not only private individuals but also rulers and princes are bound to give public honor and obedience to Christ. It will call to their minds the thought of the last judgment, wherein Christ, who has been cast out of public life, despised, neglected and ignored, will most severely avenge these insults; for his kingly dignity demands that the State should take account of the commandments of God and of Christian principles, both in making laws and in administering justice, and also in providing for the young a sound moral education.”
Our faith is rooted firmly in Jesus of Nazareth who was declared a king at his execution. He was not a king who craved for power, nor a dictator who dominated and trampled underfoot those who encountered him. In his Kingdom, his poor subjects were cherished and loved; they were his friends, the little ones, his brothers and sisters who partook in his very life. Worldly kingdoms will come and go. The Kingdom of Jesus Christ will never pass away. Mother Teresa of Calcutta understood this clearly in his earthly mission as evidenced in the love she showed to the vulnerable of her days.
In conclusion, we must not resist his first coming and then we need not fear his second coming. Surely Christ is coming. Let us be free from anxieties. The man who is free from anxieties waits for the coming of the Lord without fear. Why should we be of afraid of his coming? As the Liturgical Year comes to a close today, let us remember our standard of judgment will be how we have treated the vulnerable in our society. As the season of Advent begins, may we be watchful in prayer and render service to one another.
Source: Rev. Fr. Aaron Agorsor
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