Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly. As for you, my sheep—says the Lord God—I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first-fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The whole idea of Christ as king seems less acceptable in many nations and countries today. A lot of this rejection of the image of Christ the King comes because of the rejection of kingship and kingdoms in general. On the other hand, it is difficult to find a common word that describes the people who lead the various countries. We would smile, I think, if we had a Solemnity of Christ the Leader! Or a Solemnity of Christ the President!
What we are called to recognize in this solemnity is that whatever form leadership takes today, Jesus Christ is the ultimate of leadership and all true leadership must be based on Him in some way. We Christians are not advocating a return to kingship as the normal form of leadership.
The readings today immediately show us what true leadership is about. The true leader is the one who consistently seeks out those in his care and tries to do what will really help them. The Prophet Isaiah compares the people to a flock of sheep. Sheep are notoriously stupid and can also be very stubborn. We are kind of like that in our lives. Yet the Lord comes looking for us and never wants to lose us. A true leader looks after all of his flock.
The second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians, speaks clearly about the kingdom that the early Christians were expecting. It is clearly not a kingdom based here on earth but based on the life to come. True, the kingdoms of this earth, the countries of this earth, the leadership of this earth, must eventually all come to Jesus and acknowledge Him. How that will happen, we have no idea. It must happen all the time, not just at the end of the world. Anything that pulls our societies away from the Lord truly destroys our humanity.
The Gospel tells us what the earthly kingdom is supposed to be life and how we are supposed to live in this earthly life. It is always so very simply and yet it seems always to evade us: love one another by serving one another: when we see another person hungry and feed him; when we see someone thirsty and give them drink; when we see a stranger and welcome him; or someone naked and clothe them; when we see someone ill or in prison, and visit them. It is all so easy. Yet we don’t live that way consistently.
May Christ be our king today and lead us to live as He lived and to love all peoples as He loves them.