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Christ the King
Christ the King
Jesus, the King
A Catholic dictionary would have for the definition of King "Christ". Any earthly King or ruler is King and ruler only in so far as they are like Christ the true King.
Jesus is King because he is God and to God is owed everything, our existence, our service, our worship and our obedience and our love. And Jesus the King is coming at the end of time to judge each one of us. At the moment of our death we are judged and at the moment of our death our souls go to heaven, perhaps through the purification of purgatory or to hell. But at the end of time when our bodies too are raised from death and joined again with our immortal souls there is a final judgement when the truth and justice of God's judgement becomes clear and that justice and truth is revealed in the whole of creation including our resurrected bodies. This is what St Paul is teaching in the second reading today.
In Christ risen from the dead, creation is renewed, his risen human body is the beginning of this new creation, the first fruits, in the end anything that claims any authority or power over Christ, anything that thinks it comes before him, whether spiritual or material will be destroyed, culminating in the destruction of death which is fundamentally opposed to God's desire for life. When that happens God the Son returns everything to God the Father so that God, Father Son and Holy Spirit may be all in all.
If we were tempted to take this less than seriously, Our Lord's parable, in the gospel is a sharp reminder. How easy is it to go away to eternal punishment. Simply neglect one of the least of these.
One temptation, in response to the absolute claims of Christ the King is to soften it round the edges, ignore it or even deny it. Oh he's nice really, he likes you just as you are, the King is just like a friend, Jesus doesn't judge anyone. This is the attitude that is sometimes happier praying before a scented candle rather than a crucifix, it's the attitude that rarely sees the need for confession. Saddest of all its an attitude which completely fails to understand the prophecy in the first reading. In Jesus made man, the Stern Truth of Divine Kingship, the unavoidable reality of divine judgement, is exactly what makes the image of a shepherd so wonderful. All this Divine power and authority, which is absolute, which is beyond our comprehension, before which we should, in fear and trembling, be asking mercy for our sins, all of it is turned to looking for the lost, bringing back the stray, bandaging the wounded and making the weak strong.
Indeed on the cross, our King becomes the lost, the stray, the wounded and the weak. That's why what we do to them we do to him, what we do to ourselves we do to him. And that is why he can now search, bandage and make strong, because from the Cross the all powerful King accepted, in his human nature, weakness and the effects of sin and death and overcame them.
If we lose sight of the all powerful, divine judge then we will never begin to grasp the saving gift of the loving shepherd.