Today we come to the end of the year, the liturgical year, that is. The last couple of weeks our readings have been talking about the end times, and the second advent- the second and final coming- of Jesus Christ. And so, appropriately on this last Sunday of Ordinary Time, we celebrate Jesus Christ our Lord and King. This is such an important feast, but one that is hardly understood or lived out today in our culture. Our readings today are so inspiring, so let us begin our reflection of them so that we can come to know, appreciate, and love God anew through them.
So, what are we celebrating when we celebrate Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe? I begin with our 2nd reading from 1st Corinthians. For since death came through man, and in Adam all die, so too in Christ, and the resurrection of the dead, shall all be brought to life. God who is the Blessed Trinity- God the Father created the world through Jesus His Son and with the Holy Spirit. God created the entire world and gave it life. In the beginning, there was no corruption or death. It is only through the Fall of our first parents, through the disobedience of Adam, that sin, corruption, and death entered the world. And so, the life given to all the trees and plants, to the animals, and every human being; now because of the Fall, life on this earth has an end, and all of creation became subject to death. No matter how powerful a person or nation may be, no matter how hard one tries to avoid it, death has the final say. Death became the end, the final power and authority over every living thing. However, because of the first coming, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God the Father, life after death has been made possible for all of creation. In Jesus Christ, all shall be brought to life. Christ, the firstfruits, is the first to rise from the dead, and then at his final coming, those who belong to Christ will also rise from the dead. Listen again to our 2nd reading: “then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom of his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death”. Only God, who is the Author of Life, has power over death. And the death and Resurrection of the Son of God has now destroyed death, God is the final power and authority. But now listen again to 2nd reading: “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all”. When everything is subjected to Him. This is the same power of absolution that the priest says to every penitent in the Sacrament of Confession- God the Father of Mercies, through the Death and Resurrection of His Son, has reconciled the world to himself. God has reconciled, God has brought every living thing back to Himself, who is life. God has reconciled the world to Himself. God has subjected, God has power and authority over every living thing. Can you imagine that kind of world? A world where God, the living God, has power over every political power, over every nation, over every philosophy and way of thinking. God has power over every living thing, every person, every nation, and even over even death itself. It is true, that world is possible. The key, however, is we have to subject ourselves to His power. We have to subject ourselves to His kingdom and Lordship. We have to let God have full control, full reign over our hearts, over our lives.
And what is amazing, is God isn’t the all-powerful being who has subjected everything to Himself and then just sits idly by as humanity goes astray because of our free will. No, listen again God’s words using the analogy of sheep and shepherd in our 1st reading. God says, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, just as in Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, God has come among us, his scattered sheep. “I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal. What an amazing God we have, that not only is He the all-powerful being, but He is a God of love and mercy, coming among his scattered sheep, seeking, gathering, and healing us, his lost sheep. But again, not everyone, but only those sheep who humble themselves and allow themselves to be found, who allow God to gather and heal us. But those who don’t want to be found, who do not humble or subject themselves to Him but choose to live on their own strength- listen to the last line- “But the sleek and strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly”. In other words, in the end, God will give us what we choose, he will allow us to destroy ourselves if we don’t come to Him and subject ourselves to His authority.
Listen again to the powerful and convicting words of Jesus final of his public ministry, his final words to the people before he suffered, died, and rose from the dead and reconciled the world to Himself. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him-, (obviously speaking of His second coming and final judgement). And he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”. Now we know the sheep are docile and obedient, whereas the goats are stubborn- and refuse to listen to the master. To the sheep, he will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. And to the goats, he will say, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire and punishment prepared for the devil and his angels”.
Now for those of you, or those who you know, who believe and live as if there is no Hell or eternal punishment, or don’t believe God would ever send anyone there, let Jesus’ very clear and alarming words inform and convict you, for Jesus last words to his people cannot be more clear. Those who choose to separate themselves from God, in the end, God will allow them to “depart from Him”. And that separation is eternal punishment in itself.
So, how do we make sure that you and I are his sheep and will enter the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for us? First and foremost, we must humble and subject ourselves to His Lordship over our lives. And secondly, then we must follow and take on the heart of our Shepherd and Master. For inconceivably, the all-powerful God has humbled himself and come among of us. God has entered into our world of sin and death in order to seek out, befriend and bring back the scattered strangers who don’t know Him. Jesus came to the poor that we are, he came to feed the hungry, to quench every thirst, and to heal and set free every human person imprisoned by sin and shame. And so we must first humble and subject ourselves and continually receive his healing mercy and love, and then we who call ourselves Christian, must be Christ-like, we must take on the heart of our Master and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the poor, seek out, befriend, and bring back the lost and scattered.
So, will you join me in praying- Lord, my God, I subject myself to your authority and rule. I humble my stubborn pride, and I give you my selfish heart. I ask you to help me have your heart, to live not for myself or my own desires, but for you and your people. Help me to love others the way you love every person, starting with my family and those around me. Help me to have your heart to see and love especially those who annoy and make me feel uncomfortable. Help me to comfort the poor, to seek and befriend those who are lost and imprisoned in any way. Help me to go outside of my comfort zone and give myself to you, who became one of these little ones. God, you did and do this for me, your little one, so help me to do this for others. AMENBACK TO LIST