HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING.
HOMILY THEME: KINGLY SHEPHERD
BY: Fr. Mark Percival. MA,PP.
This weekend’s Solemnity concludes our Liturgical Year. It also tells us that we’re now just 4 weeks from Christmas. Next weekend, the 1st Sunday of Advent, we start with the Year.B readings and prayers. As Christmas is a fixed celebration, falling always on a set date, Advent is short this year due to the way the secular calendar falls, with Christmas Eve beginning on the Sunday evening of the 4th Sunday of Advent. This necessitates some rare but not unheard of changes to Masses for that weekend so as to accomodate Christmas. I’ll have these Masses and other Advent celebrations listed for you and your family and visiting friends in next weekend’s newsletter.
Now, back to this Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. As the title suggests it’s all about Jesus and His Christ-ship, and how what He did for all leads Him to be ruler over all that exists. As with ever celebration in our Church we always start with the readings and prayers in the Roman Missal and the Lectionary. On this Solemnity they tell us what sort of a King in Christ we have and how He comes to be King over all.
The Prophet Ezekiel presents us with God as model of the ideal shepherd looking over and after the entire flock, tending the wounded and seeking out the lost. It end by saying that God is the only one who can wisely and worthily judge between us, God’s sheep. St. Paul, in the 2nd reading, points out that Christ’s resurrection after His self-sacrificing death for us confirms Him to be God’s chosen One. If we have faith in Him then we, too, will be raised to New Life.
The aim of all of this is that the entire creation may come into communion with God, having harmony and communion restored, freed at last from the power of futility and death. It’s fair to think of this is God’s ‘master plan’ for us and for the entire created order, subduing all other forces and powers to God and to God’s will which is that we may have Life, and have it free from fear and to the full.
The famous Last Judgement scene from St. Matthew’s gospel rounds off these readings. The Son of Man and the Angels come in great glory. Seated on His Kingly shepherd’s throne, the sheep from the goats are separated one from the other. What distinguishes them is this; the sheep unselfishly did help and care for others, but the goats did not. Neither group, sadly, recognised the Son of Man in those people who were suffering, isolated and struggling around them. However, the chosen sheep acted for the needy while the goats acted only for themselves, neglecting all others. Truly, it’s a very low bar to set, but it’s sufficient to work out who is headed to eternal life from those headed to eternal punishment.
As those who profess to be on the side of the King our orders are clear; care for the lonely, isolated and needy, help the afflicted and stand up for life, goodness and mercy, not death, selfishness and callousness of heart. If we strive to do this, with God’s help of course, then we further and promote the Kingdom and Reign of the True Shepherd. This is a Kingdom, as the Preface prays, of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. It began on the cross of sacrifice for all, and it will end in a final sorting and judgement. Which group we find ourselves in is to a large degree dependant on the choice we make here and now.