Growing up in the Catholic faith, we may have a special liking towards certain Feast days that occur throughout the liturgical calendar. For me, my favourite day is the Solemnity of Christ the King, and as I reflect today, I am seeing the word of God speak back to my own heart.
What words come to mind when we think of kings of old? I recall words such as ruler, authority, war, power, armies. Kings are known to rule with an iron fist, and those who do not are seen as weak and unworthy of the throne. We see political leaders who choose to show mercy are ostracized by society, because people are so accustomed to having a king be someone who is mighty and full of his own strength.
The brief description above could not be further away from the truth when it comes to our God and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we take the same words that we looked at – ruler, authority, war, power, army – we will see that it can be applied to the Lord Jesus when he walked on this earth, but not in the conventional and expected way. The Lord Jesus ruled not with an iron fist, but with mercy. He has authority over heaven and earth, but His authority comes from His identity and knowing He is the beloved Son of God. The wars that He wages are against the powers and principalities of darkness and not the rulers of this world. The power that He receives is from the Holy Spirit, divine power to forgive and heal, not wound or destroy. His army is not made of soldiers but of the hosts of heaven who are continuously waiting on Him.
What kind of leadership is this? Surely it is not the kind we are used to, and this kind of leadership would have shocked even the disciples who walked alongside the Lord Jesus. The way that the Lord Jesus ruled on earth was as a Servant King, humbling himself for the glory of the Father, giving of himself no matter how great the cost, going through humiliation and agony for love of his brothers and sisters – he laid down his life for his friends, and because of this, he was raised in glory on the third day. It is because of this servant’s heart that we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.
The Father raised the Lord Jesus to the highest place because he humbled himself in the face of adversity. However, the Kingship of the Lord is not to be taken lightly. He is still the Ruler of the nations, He is still the Great High Priest, the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty, the Righteous Judge – He still wields all power in Him, but in equal measure, He is merciful, just, kind and forgiving. It is this superhuman balance of mercy and justice that makes Him worthy of the title of ‘King of kings’. As we look at today’s readings, we see the servant King Jesus also overlap with the Shepherd King, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. It is this Shepherd of our hearts that guides and leads us to righteousness. It is He who makes us worthy to stand in the throne room of God. It is He who brings us to green pastures, and it is He who prepares a banquet for us in the presence of our enemies. Just like the Lord Jesus had a meal for the Last Supper, in the presence of his enemies – the betrayers and the deniers – we too are led to instances where we will be in the midst of people who are against us, sometimes for lack of knowledge. What then, is our response?
We see the answer in today’s Gospel proclamation. The Lord Jesus gives us a glimpse of Judgment Day, when Christ the King’s true glory and majesty will be revealed before all nations. It is how we react to the people around us that will bring out the true servant heart of our Lord and King. If we fail to bring out His love, we have failed in our mission.
We may try to live in the kingdom of God, by being upstanding citizens, by never saying anything to upset anybody, by always doing the right thing – all of which is commendable. However, what did we do for our neighbour? How did the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, come alive in the hearts of people who were yet to know Him? If we were not instrumental in making the Lord Jesus a reality to those who are poor, downcast, marginalized and shunned – then we have to answer to Christ our King.
We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters, and it is our responsibility as Christians to bring the kingdom of servanthood and love into a hurting world.
Prayer: Abba Father, give me the grace to have a servant’s heart and serve others in little ways each day. Amen.