November 24, 2017

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionOn this weekend, the Church concludes its liturgical year. Next week, a new year will begin with the First Sunday of Advent. This weekend the Church closes the year with an excited and fervent proclamation of Christ as the king of the universe.

The first reading for this great feast comes from the Book of Ezekiel. In this reading, God speaks in the first person, promising protection of the flock, in other words, the people of God. He is the shepherd, seeking the lost, caring for the injured, rescuing the imperiled. God will also distinguish between the sheep and others who assume other identities because of their choice to be unfaithful to him.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians provides the second reading. This selection is a proclamation of the resurrection, and of the role of the Lord as redeemer of humanity. He is the risen Lord, the first of those who will rise to everlasting life. Those who will follow Jesus in being raised from the dead are “those who belong” to Christ, in other words, those persons who have admitted God, through Jesus, into their lives, and who have received from the Lord the gift of grace, eternal life and strength (1 Cor 15:23).

Paul frankly admits in this reading that forces are at work in the world that are hostile to God. These forces cannot be dismissed as insignificant or timid, although they are by no means omnipotent. In and through Jesus, the power and life of God will endure. God will triumph over all evil. No one bound to God should fear the powers of evil, although all must resist these powers.

For its final reading on this great feast, the Church offers us a passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel. It is a glance forward, to the day when God’s glory will overwhelm the world, to the day when Jesus will return in majesty and glory.

This expectation was a favorite theme in the early Church, in the community of believers in which the Gospels, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were formed.

The reading repeats the description given in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel, God the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, the good from the unfaithful. In this reading from Matthew, Jesus promises a final judgment to separate the faithful from the sinful.

The Lord beautifully defines in this passage who will be judged as faithful, and who will be seen as unfaithful. The faithful will not be those who only give lip service to their belief in God, but those who, following the model of Jesus, give themselves totally to the will of God.

Reflection

A popular motion picture a few years ago, and a true story at that, was The King’s Speech. It was about Britain’s King George VI (1895-1952), on the throne from 1936 until his death, focusing on his determined efforts to overcome a serious speech impediment.

The king and his wife, known for decades until her own death in 2002 as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, were great figures as the British struggled against enormous odds in the Second World War.

At the height of the war, with the German blitz or bombing relentlessly tearing British life apart, the rumor spread that the royal family, as well as the government, would flee the country.

One day, arriving on the scene of a horrendous bombing attack, Queen Elizabeth was confronted with the question of whether or not she and her husband would send their young daughters to Canada. Indeed, would she and the king flee?

The queen answered, “My daughters will not leave without me. I shall not leave without the king, and, the king will never, ever, ever leave you!”

For us Christians, our king will never, ever leave us. He is with us now and always, guiding, healing and strengthening us. †

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