There is a story about a good King who loved his subjects so much that he decided to leave his palace to dwell with the people in their ordinary habitation in the inner cities of the Kingdom. The people found it incredible that the King could abandon the comfort and luxury of the palace to stay with them in their low standard habitation. They accepted with joy.
Every day, the King would follow them in their daily activities, eat with them and even play with them. He made himself available for them for direction, advice, and all manner of assistance. After some time, the people became conversant with the presence of the King that most of them could no longer connect with the awe that goes with royalty. Most people took him for granted and would often pass him without greeting. Some would appear before him in rags and others would even speak to him as they would to an ordinary person in the Kingdom.
With the progress of time, a more significant majority of the people lost touch with the King entirely and didn’t feel the need for a King. In fact, most of them would tell stories and display the pictures of “powerful Kings” from other Kingdoms who live in magnificent palaces and attract great admiration and fear from their subject. The King became so insignificant to the people that nobody knew when he left the Kingdom to an unknown place. Just very few who were loyal noticed and followed him.
Sometime later, the Kingdom started experiencing a lot of problems and was disintegration as strange Kings besieged the kingdom from various directions. At this point, the people began looking for their King to help, but it was too late. They could not find the King, and they could not trace his whereabouts. Could this be like our encounter with Jesus Christ the King of Kings, and Lord of Lord’s who humbled himself to come among us and became like us in all things except sin (Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 4:15)? Do we recognize the privilege of having Jesus Christ always with us?
Kings live in palaces and wield enormous influence over their subjects. In a typical Kingdom, subjects serve the King with fear and trembling, and the King is not usually accessible; some people live their whole lives without making a personal experience with their King. Today, as we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, our attention goes to one of the most significant images and characteristics of God in the Old and New Testaments, namely, shepherd.
Going back through the scriptures, we could see a pattern of God’s choice of shepherds among the Patriarchs, Judges, Kings, and Prophets (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Saul, David, Amos, Ezekiel). There is something about the shepherding that is so special that God adopts it to describe His relationship with us. Like a shepherd who turned to a King, David was inspired in Psalm 23 to declare that God is our Shepherd who has a detailed plan for our protection, provision, and guidance. We could also recall that angels announced the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ through shepherds (Luke 2:8-20).
In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ takes up the image of the shepherd when in the Gospel of John (10:11) he says, “I am the good shepherd” and goes further to elaborate on the functions of the good shepherd which relates to the details of Psalm 23. Furthermore, before his passion and death, our Lord declares that he is a King though his Kingdom is not earthly (Luke 23:2-3; John 18:33-37).
Jesus Christ the King is unlike the Kings of this world. Earthly Kings stay in their palaces, and their subjects provide for them and protect them even with their lives. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Shepherd-King who provides for the sheep, knows each one by its name and also lays down his life for them (John 10:11-18). In the First Reading today (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17), the oracle of the prophet assures us that God will look after and tend his sheep. However, He will also judge our deeds. The Gospel Reading (Matt. 25:31-46) confirms the judgment while stating that God will separate the sheep from the goat.
Beyond the celebration of Christ as our universal King, there is the need for us to recognize, appreciate and cooperate with the presence of the King of Kings in our lives. We could recall in our opening story that we could become too accustomed to the presence of the King among us that we fail to give him honor and acknowledge his power working in us. Are we not getting used to his presence in our Churches that most of us do a lot of banal things inside the church which includes but not restricted to making phone calls, chatting on social media, hating and gossiping just to mention but four?
Our Lord Jesus Christ will be happy that we are proclaiming him the universal King today, but he will be happier if we could acknowledge his presence and follow his words; “the sheep that belong to me hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Our Lord will be happier if we make him the Lord and King of our lives. Today, there are many “kingdoms and kings” that we have allowed into our lives and which are also misdirecting our lives. They are in modern technology, fashion, consumerism, and secularism.
A very typical question we could ask ourselves today is: “who is the King of my life?”. If we declare that Jesus Christ is the King of our lives, we should make his Lordship real in our lives by fearing God and walking in His ways (Psalm 128:1).
May you have a resounding celebration of Christ the Universal King and may what you proclaim with your lips today manifest in your life.