“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31-32)
Today, being the very last Sunday of this liturgical year, we are wrapping up all our celebrations throughout this year with the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. We began by preparing for Jesus’ birthday (Advent) and followed it up through His public ministry to his death and resurrection, then the coming of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost all through the Season of Ordinary Time. And so we are ending by reminding ourselves that Jesus is King of heaven and earth and He truly reigns over all.
The summary of all our celebration today is clearly highlighted in the three readings of today. 1. That Jesus is the shepherd who seeks out His sheep (First Reading) 2. That Jesus is the priest who sacrificed Himself for our sake (Second Reading) and 3. That Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords who reigns over all forever and would come at the end of time to judge us based on how we have chosen to live (Gospel Reading). As such, when we say Christ is our King, we mean that He is our provider, our mediator and at the same time, He is our Judge.
What lessons do we learn from today’s liturgy?
1. Live above Worries; you are not without a Caring Shepherd.
One strong message contained in both our first reading and our responsorial psalm today is the need to cast our cares on God and deepen our trust in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that we face in this life that escapes His watchful eye. Even in the sight of our foes, He prepares a table before us and when we walk through the valley of darkness, He is there besides us guiding and guarding us. He fights our battles for us and He comes to our rescue when no one is there to help us.
Why do we often behave like people who are all alone? Why do we carry so much burdens on our shoulders and cannot sleep at night? Why are we afraid of our enemies (the wolves and lions) who threaten us? Why do we complain so much about the failure of our civil authorities (politicians in power) forgetting that they are mere humans like ourselves?
The simple reason we are not conscious of Jesus being our shepherd is that we do not listen to His voice, we do not obey His command. Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28). Before you begin to recite Psalm 23, ask yourself, am I behaving like one of the sheep of Jesus Christ? Do I deserve His protection and provision when I fail to obey Him?
2. The Essence of Leadership is sacrificing for One’s Sheep.
In all of history, there has never been a leader as great as Jesus Christ. St. Paul captures this point beautifully when he noted: “[Jesus] emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:7-11).
What made Jesus so great was his extraordinary humility and sacrifice for us His sheep. Many times, Jesus said: “the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). When we look around us today, we see a very stark difference between the example of Jesus and the caliber of leaders we have around. Before you start pointing fingers, first ask: “In my own capacity as a leader, am I sacrificing anything for my sheep or am I simply feeding on my sheep?”
Dear friends, if you do not make the life of your sheep better, you are a failure as a leader. In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that by one man – Adam (a leader by being the first man), death came into humanity but by one man – Jesus Christ (the perfect leader), life came to us. What you do as a leader can either bring death or life to your people. Do not be a selfish leader who cares only about yourself; think of how to make the lives of your followers better.
3. Get Ready for Judgment.
The song: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers” was composed based on our Gospel passage today. Whether we are leaders or not, let us know that we cannot escape judgement. We shall either be among the sheep put on the right side or among the goats at the left. The Good News is that Jesus has already leaked to us the script that would be used for this judgement. It is being told the answers to the questions you are going to be asked in the examination hall.
The sad reality is that despite knowing the secrets of this judgment we shall face before Jesus Christ, the King of the universe, we tend to basically ignore it. We limit our kindness and help only to those from who we hope to receive from. We turn our eyes from noticing the hungry; the sick, the homeless and hopeless people we find in our society. Whether we like it or not, those we ignore and refuse to help eventually become the miscreants (hoodlums) that turn around to rob our society of its peace and security. Of course, you may not be able to help every single person but even if it is just one person you are able to pick up and transform his or life for the better, God will surely reward you in the life to come. Try to see Jesus Christ in the faces of the poor and suffering around you.
Conclusion: Worship Jesus by Your Life.
If you consider Jesus as your King, then live as His subject. If you consider Jesus as your Shepherd, live like His sheep; follow His instructions with a childlike trust. If you consider Jesus as your priest, then surrender completely to Him. He died for you and there is no limit to what He is willing to do for your good. Stop putting your hope in human leaders and realize that you belong to a different kingdom whose leadership is not determined by elections. You belong to God’s Kingdom; behave as a Kingdom child.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may I eventually be among your sheep put on your right side in heaven. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 34:11-17, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 and Matthew 25:31-46).