November 22, 2020 – Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus, King of the Universe
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112220.cfm)
How would you imagine a king? Being influenced by fairy tales, anime and movies, I would imagine a king who wears a golden crown, covered in a golden robe, sitting on a golden throne and living in a golden palace. A king is a powerful man who has thousands of armies, who conquered many nations and defeated countless enemies through bloody wars. He is untouchable – commoners, slaves and servants cannot talk to him directly. His throne is too far from the ordinary people.
This is not far from how we imagine Jesus Christ our King. Influenced by the western culture we also imagine Christ the king who wears a golden crown, wrapped in a golden robe and sits on a golden throne. This image for me, seems to be a very distant king. A king who does not know the daily affairs of his people. A king who merely shows greatness, triumph and wealth.
However, our readings today portray a different image of Christ the King. There was no mention of wealth, no gold and silver, no armies and weapons. Let us closely look the readings today.
The first reading from the Book of Prophet Ezekiel has a very interesting background. The political and religious leaders who were supposed to guide and care for the people became irresponsible. They became corrupt and abusive. They were chosen by God to lead his people and uphold justice and promote peace. However, they turned into men who only hungered for power and wealth. The poor were exploited and the needy were abandoned. Hence, God became so upset with what they had done to the people. And so, God promised that he will be the one to personally care for his people as a Good Shepherd would do to his sheep.
This gives us the image of a God who builds personal connection or relationship with his people. God searches for us when we are lost. God gives us rest and brings us to a safe and abundant place. He looks after us because each of us is so dear to Him.
This promise of a faithful God gives us the assurance that God indeed is there for us all the time. For this reason, our psalm captured beautifully the feeling of being taken cared by God Himself – “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” Yes, this is an attitude of a person who has become confident in God’s promise. Indeed, in God everything shall be fine, in him, all shall be well.
This is what St. Paul has told us in his letter to the Corinthians “that God is everything to each of us.” It only means that God is there for us and accompanies us in our brokenness and difficulties. Yes, this Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe reminds us now that our King, our God is not far from us. He is not sitting on a golden throne or wrapped in a golden robe or guarded by a concrete golden palace or protected by security agents and royal guards. Our King is here with us, walking with us in our brokenness and woundedness. Our King has even identified himself to be among us and one of us, wounded and broken.
The Gospel tells us about this. The King in the parable identifies himself with those people who are hungry and thirsty, who are naked, who are homeless, who are imprisoned, who are sick. Indeed, Jesus identifies himself with those who are broken and wounded.
The best way of expressing our gratitude to Christ, of our reverence and love for him is in making our faith concrete through the “corporal works of mercy” by feeding the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, welcoming the stranger, visiting the imprisoned – the very people to whom our King identifies himself.
This is the invitation for us on today. It is in our ordinary life, in every day affairs of our life that we are called to respond to Christ the King of the Universe who has called us. The corporal works of mercy can be expressed through our common and ordinary dealings with members of our family, our friends, co-workers and even strangers we meet on the road especially when we are confronted with all their brokenness, wounds and needs.
Christ the King rather chooses to be identified with a sick old man abandoned by his family, or a rejected and broken-hearted daughter or son who succumbed to drug or alcohol addiction, or to a person physically, mentally and sexually abused, or to a person affected fatally by the financial crisis brought by the pandemic, or to a physically and mentally drained medical front-liner, or to an infected person of Covid-19, a grieving family because of the death of a loved one, or to a family being displaced because of the recent disasters, or a person deprived of voice and freedom or to a friend who suffers depression, or a classmate who is being bullied.
Christ calls us to see and encounter him through these people. Expand now our image of Christ the King. Rather than imagining him with gold and jewels, let us encounter the Lord among our needy brothers and sisters. Thus, take time to reach out to those who need our help, in ways that we can do. Hopefully, that encounter and the experience of reaching out to the needy, will bring us into the experience of encountering Christ through others. Hinaut pa.