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Thursday, 17 November 2022 18:00

The Royal Shepherd

The people stayed there before the cross watching Jesus. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer him vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23:35-43)

Reflection - The royal shepherd

On this last Sunday of the Church’s year we celebrate the Feast of Christ, the King. Today is a day to give thanks to God for all the blessings received during the past year. Most of all, we thank God for the great gift of his son. We celebrate Christ as King of the Universe and look forward to the coming of his kingdom in all its fullness at the end of time.

We are also conscious of the reign of God here and now. The Preface of today’s mass says that Christ’s kingdom is
‘a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace’.

Whenever we act like Christ, the Kingdom of God breaks into our world. Whenever we are moved by the Spirit to proclaim the truth, to respond to need, to work for justice, to transform and heal our society, the Kingdom of God breaks into human reality and the grace of God becomes clearly visible in our words and actions. May we be a people who always seek to bring the reign of God’s goodness into our world. That would be the very best way of celebrating this feast.

The first reading from the book of Samuel tells the story of David’s election as king of Israel. Under David all the twelve tribes of Israel gathered to form one kingdom. The reading recalls God’s commission to David to be ‘shepherd of my people Israel’. David is not to lord it over his people, but to be a shepherd to them.

Like David, Christ comes to gather all people into the one Kingdom of God. He, too, acts as a shepherd-king to God’s people.

The Gospel illustrates this clearly. Here is a king who gives up his life for his people. He has no fine clothes. His throne is the cross. His crown is made of thorns, not of gold. Even in the throes of death faith and forgiveness are at work and entry into the kingdom of God gained and granted. Indeed, the final act of the dying King Jesus is to grant forgiveness, mercy and admission to the kingdom – a gospel within the Gospel.

The Gospel readings throughout Ordinary time have lead us on a journey of accompanying Jesus on his earthly journey, listening to him unfold God’s desire for the human family, watching him restore health and wholeness to many, being taught how to pray properly, to be aware that the Kingdom is both ‘here and now’ and ‘yet to come’, the lengths God goes to in order to win us back, and how God meets us with mercy, forgiveness, healing and peace.

Download to read or print our Celebrating At Home prayers, reading and reflection for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home Feast of Christ the King [PDF] (3.67 MB)
default Celebrating At Home Feast of Christ the King [ePub] (2.81 MB)