Christ the King – Nov. 23, 2020

When I was a boy, I loved watching movies and reading about knights. I was enthralled by the tales of Camelot and the Knights of the Roundtable as they pledged allegiance to King Arthur.

I think I was so enchanted by this idea because as Americans, we do not have royalty. Our country was founded with the War of Independence wherein we fought against having a king.

So when we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, what do we understand this to mean in terms of our relationship with God? Does it conjure up images of an oppressive relationship? Does one consider God to be nothing more than a ruler issuing edicts that must be obeyed?

If we look at today’s Scripture, the readings proclaim the kingship of Jesus Christ. The first reading is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. It speaks of a shepherd in his relationship with the flock. The shepherd will seek out the lost, heal the injured , and unite them. It is a relationship of service. It is a relationship of healing. This is our shepherd and king.

We then hear the famous Psalm 23. Again we hear how the shepherd cares for his flock. We hear how – as long as he is with us – we have nothing to fear. He takes care of our needs. He anoints our head with oil.

Now let’s think about this powerful statement. It calls to mind our baptism. In our baptism we were anointed with the holy oil known as chrism. This means the oil of Christ. In the ancient tradition of the Jewish people, one was anointed priest, prophet, and king. When we are anointed in baptism we are anointed in the same tradition sharing in the identity of Christ. We are anointed to be those who present Christ to the world – sharing in His identity and His work

The very name Christ is in fact a title. It is Greek which means “Anointed One”. There is another significance in this Psalm 23 verse of being anointed. He “anoints my head with oil”.

Since we are not the Jewish population of 2000 years ago we will not readily understand the meaning of these pastoral references. A sheep is tormented by gnats that bite its ears and cause cracking and bleeding and itching. The shepherd would take oil and pour it over the head and ears of the sheep in order to create a balm of healing, a barrier to protect the sheep from the biting gnats.

This was a powerful image for the people at the time of Jesus. It let them know that whatever is bothering them, whatever is irritating them, whatever is causing them pain and injury will be healed by their relationship with Christ.

So if we have on the feast of Christ the King – a servant king, a shepherd king, and we ourselves are anointed with His holy oil in our baptism – we are therefore commissioned and anointed. We are to continue His healing work in the world.

How do we continue the divine work of our King? How do we bring healing to others? Do we have compassion and empathy to be on the lookout for those who might need extra care? Do we see the problems and pain that others experience?

One powerful way to bring healing to another is to give them our time and attention. This is called the power of presence. Care is communicated by time spent with another. Each one of us can do this. We can take the time to truly listen to one another. We can take the time to truly communicate our concern. Kindness, care, and especially our love have a healing affect. The words of today’s Gospel call us to care for one another. We can ask ourselves – do we bring healing to others? Or do we act as sources of irritation – like gnats biting at the ears of others?

I think it is safe to say that all of us have things going on in our lives that are like gnats biting in our ears. Irritations, frustrations – things that make us feel like we’re going to perhaps crack. How we are all so very much in need of God‘s healing presence. How very much we need God to anoint our head with oil.

Today on the feast of Christ the King, we celebrate our relationship with our God. We celebrate that He makes Himself a servant to us. We celebrate that He cares for us. We celebrate that He heals us. When we follow His example, may we continue to live as His anointed ones bringing healing and care in His name to all we meet. If we do this, then truly we share in His ministry, His identity, and His kingship.

FIRST READING
Ez 34:11-12, 15-17

As for you, my flock, I will judge between one sheep and another.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel

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.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   In verdant pastures he gives me repose.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Beside restful waters he leads me;
   he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
   in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
   all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
   for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

SECOND READING
1 Cor 15:20-26, 28

Christ will hand over the kingdom to his God and Father so that God may be all in all.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
   the firstfruits 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 firstfruits;
   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 ACCLAMATION
Mk 11:9, 10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL
Mt 25:31-46

The Son of Man will sit upon his glorious throne and he will separate one from another.

A reading from the holy Gospel according tp Matthew

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.”

2 thoughts on “Christ the King – Nov. 23, 2020

  1. Christ is my King! He is King for God the Father. He is King of the Catholic Church. He is King of the Diocese of Rockford! Thank you for the reminder Andrew Hougan. We pray for each priest and pastor to be servant to Christ the King. And my continued prayers for an increase to vocations to the priesthood.

    Liked by 1 person

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