This weekend we celebrate the feast of Christ, eternal Priest and universal King. He began to reign on earth lying on the wood of a manger, and he ended it nailed to the cross. At the Mass this weekend, we celebrate the death of the Servant-Son of God and thank our Father-God for the salvation which his Christ has won for our sakes.
The Davidic King who established the reign of God in earth as Messiah, Jesus our Christ, marked by the nature of his rule with the image of a shepherd. It is well known to him from the Scriptures he learned at home and heard in the synagogue. ‘I am the good shepherd,’ he said, ‘the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep’. Jesus would have known that the majority of people in history experienced only the brutality and plundering of human kings, and the image needed to be tempered by one that was gentle, warm and nurturing.
We are told in Vatican ll that all of us are called to follow Christ, poor, humble and cross-bearing, must, according to our gifts and duties, ‘ steadfastly advance along the way of a living faith, which arouses hope and works through love’. In this way we help to build up towards its fullness the Kingdom of justice, love and peace of which the preface of the Mass this weekend speaks. It is a call to alleviate the distress of the hungry, homeless, less able people of our world, brought into our living rooms by way of television. Our whole being should reach out not just to the needy at our doorsteps, but to those also in greater need on the ‘other world’.
The Council also spoke of ‘people of good will in whose hearts grace is acting invisibly’ and states that ‘we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being partners, in a way to know God, in the paschal mystery’. Thus, the people of every nation will be able to respond to the need of ‘one of the least of these brothers of mine’. In the words of St. John of the cross, ‘ in the evening of life, we shall all of us be examined on love’.
Canon Francis Brown