The Gospel reading for this last Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 25: 31-46 offers us a portrait of Jesus as the judge; St. Paul depicts him as the Risen Lord in 1 Cor. 15: 20-26, 28; and the Prophet Ezekiel in 34:11-12, 15-17 pictures him as a shepherd. All the images of Christ bring to fore features of his Lordship over all the universe. Jesus as the Judge, Lord, and shepherd is deserving of our focus and trust as we live through the current season of anomy (to borrow the title of the second novel of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka). There is so much disorder in our world, and the only one who can restore order is Jesus. But for Jesus to restore order, we must acknowledge him as the ultimate judge over our actions, the Lord of our life and conscience, and the shepherd of our individual souls and society at large.
When Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925, he intended that we recognize the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ via the way of the Cross and submit ourselves to his dominion. We are to surrender our independence to this shepherd-Lord because his kingship is devoted to saving us in the way we could not save ourselves. Let us pray the lyrics of that beautiful song to the King of the Universe: “Shepherd of my soul, I give you full control.”
As we restore our souls and society to Jesus, let us at the same time offer him thanks for all he has been for us. He is deserving of all our praise, worship, and thanksgiving as we read from Revelation 4 during one of our weekday masses this past week. With the pandemics, racial justice protests, and ongoing election conflicts defining most of our 2020, we may be tempted not to see reasons to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. But we must remember that the bible instructs us to “render constant thanks” to God, for “such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:16).
I AM THANKFUL to God for all of you, my brothers and sisters. Thanks for your gifts of love, pastoral and financial support. E seun.
Please celebrate safely with your family and friends.
Fr. Bernard, OP