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The Shepherd King

November 20, 2014

Christ the King

This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday which is the last Sunday in Ordinary Time before the church begins a new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. Originally, it was simply called the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. However, in 1925, Pope Pius XI authorized the change to Christ the King Sunday. In the wake of World War I and all of its carnage, and political tensions and unease, it was also meant to remind the faithful of the Sovereignty of Christ. It is necessary to note that the Lectionary we have today is a recent development in terms of Scripture study and preaching. It was developed in the mid-1960’s by a panel of Protestant and Catholic liturgical scholars in response to liturgical reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Council. And in 1992, it was further revised by the North American Consultation on Common Texts to the Revised Common Lectionary that we have today.

I have been reflecting on the passages from Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 and Matthew 25:31-46 and the Kingship of Christ. And, similar to other bloggers and Christ-followers I have been reading and having an internal dialogue with,

I have some trouble with the whole Kingship thing. When you think of Kings (and Queens) there are many stories that are less than glorious. For instance, King George III of England taxed people for each window they had in their home. Why? Because they were using the King’s sunlight! And of course, the sad story of King Louis XVI of France and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette sheds monarchy in a less than stellar light. Marie was noted to say during a time of economic trouble and starvation that the poor could simply eat cake! There are also some good stories of how monarchs actually cared for the people. King George VI of England (father of Queen Elizabeth II) refused to leave during the London bombing of WWII and also refused to send his family away to safety as many of the elite did during that time.

So what to do with this Christ the King Sunday I wonder… part of the answer which has been slowly coming to me is the blending of Shepherd and King. Yes, King David has often been referred to as the Shepherd King, but with Jesus it is different. While he may be King, he is a King who washes the feet of his disciples and touches the lepers and welcomes the outcasts. He is a servant leader to use the language of today.

Perhaps on this Sunday, we should focus less on the “royalty” or “kingship” and more on who Jesus was according to his words and deeds. Coming down from heaven, taking on human form and likeness, he humbled himself and became obedient, even death on a cross. The King who would serve, who would give his life for the sins of the world.

This is the picture I choose to reflect upon as I think of the King of King and Lord of Lords. Following the Shepherd King wherever he may lead me… leading me in doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8).

Icon Good Shepherd

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