Sunday, 26 November 2017

Christ the King, Year A

Mt 25:31-46; Ezek 34:11-17
Today I want us to consider why we should want a king.
The past couple weeks we’ve seen the deposing of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. He was something like a king, and they didn’t want him.
Angela Merkel in Germany is currently struggling to get re-elected. Somewhat like Theresa May, she seems at risk of going from complete control to being a power of yesterday.
Earthly rulers rise and fall. They are inherently transitory.
The Lord Jesus, however, is king forever.
But why do we want a king? Especially, given that we live in a democratic age.

The image of kingship we hear in our readings this year, Year A, is both frightening as comforting.
Frightening, because the king will come to judge. How many of us feel truly comfortable being judged on the criteria the Lord listed:
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, caring for “the least of these”.
Being judged in frightening.
But, it’s also an indication of power:
If you’re going to have a king, its good to have a king who is powerful enough to DO things.

What of comfort? The king is also portrayed as a shepherd.
This is a consistent Bible image of the Lord’s rule: He governs by shepherding.
And what does a shepherd do?
He leads the flock to water, he takes them to be fed in good pasture, he brings them to shelter in cold, and he defends them against wolves
-this is all good stuff that we need.

Let me note something else, however:
There is something the modern western mentality that is more concerned with FREEDOM than it is with food, water, and flourishing.
“No one’s going to tell ME what to do”, might be the typical attitude.
Better to starve in freedom than to be fat in slavery -who wants a king?

The point is this:
When we look to the Lord Jesus we see that this is a false opposition:
He BOTH gives us freedom, and, cares for us.
Until the final judgement, we are free to sin or free to love -we are free.
And His caring for us doesn’t oppose our freedom.
He shepherds us by teaching, sanctifying and governing.
He teaches us the truth that is His very self, so we know reality, know how to live, know fulfilment in His commandments.
He sanctifies us by His grace, by His sacraments, nourishing us by the food that is His very flesh in the Eucharist.
He governs us both through His Church and through His providence -directing the events of our life to the good, even to bring good out of evil.

So do we want a king?
The devil has no king. He reigns in Hell. He says, “I will not serve”.
The saints of God, however, see that the Kingship of Christ is a kingship that deserves our allegiance. A shepherd king.
Let us each, today, choose to serve.
Serve our neighbour, the “least of these” mentioned in the Gospel text today.
Serve our King, the shepherd. A king worth serving.

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