Daily Reflection
November 21st, 1999
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Christ the King

The Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
Psalm 23:1-3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
Matthew 25:31-46

We reflect on these readings for the feast of Christ the King and wonder where is this king.  The first reading of this liturgy pictures God as a shepherd who gathers, pastures, heals and finds his flock.  The King is the searcher not the sought and so we begin to see where and Who this King is.

The reading from Matthew has been called "The Last Judgement."  The sheep are judged safe and the goats sent off again into the desert of eternal banishment.  "When did we see You?"  Where is the King now and how do we recognise Him and serve Him? 

We can read this as some kind of judicial proceeding, or a picture of the reality of Who God is in Christ and who each of us is, in the same Christ.  This celebration of Christ as King is also a celebration of how Jesus has embraced our fallen humanity as to be in the least of His sisters and brothers as well as the sleek and strong. 

At conventions and other social gatherings, we can wear name-tags or badges which tell others who we are; our names, and perhaps our titles and offices.  We announce the dignity and level of concern or care we expect.  "O, Mr. President, right this way."  "O madam, you move to the head of the line."  We know there is a prestigious pecking-order in the kingdoms of this world.  Jesus is bent on establishing a reverential realm where the true dignity of each person lies in being in Christ.  In this world's kingdom, the least go to the back of the line if they are allowed in line at all.  Jesus blesses as safe those who have not been fooled by outward badges or lofty positions. 

This gospel is not a judgement, but an outline of how we are invited to live our dignity with, and as, His sisters and brothers.  Upon entering a culture which is different from our own, we would appreciate a custom book or a guide to tell us how to greet the people native to that area.  We would want to know whether we shake hands or bow, look people straight in the eye, sit or stand and all the ways to act so as not to offend.

Jesus puts things very clearly; do the deeds that He has done and we will be doing them not only for Him, but to Him.  We have the phrase when departing friends, "take care."  Jesus is giving that phrase new meaning in today's Gospel.  "Take good care of Me as I exist in even the lowliest, the sick, the prisoners and all whom this world sees as walk-by-able." 

We are called again to enter His culture as strangers, or visitors and ask to adapt our ways to His.  Christianity is a culture and it has His ways as its ways.  Today we are invited to pay a visit there and urged to stay there all our days.  Seeing Christ dressed as those whom we would rather avoid, is the number one "do" in the kingdom where Christ is King and where He can be found within the lost. 

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