This Sunday the Catholic Church (at least in the US) celebrates the feast of Christ the King. Interesting how the readings for mass focus on shepherds and sheep and goats. Even the Psalm is Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd.) If you want to read them yourself, look here:
The Gospel is Mt 25:31-46 where the sheep and goats are separated, and it becomes obvious that the ones who “did it right” (here named as sheep) are those that fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty and welcomed the stranger and in that way served God/Christ. The others (represented as goats in this gospel) are taken by surprise because they can’t even see that God/Christ is present in the unwashed masses who are hungry, thirsty and in a strange land. “When did we see You?” they ask.
It seems to me that the lesson here is that we are to see Christ in all people, in all of creation. It’s not always easy. It can be quite a struggle at times. After encountering men with red necks floating in their inner tubes on the lake, cigarettes rolled up in their T-shirt sleeves to keep them dry, having a beer and generally raising Cain, a friend offered the following prayer: “Jesus, if you are here, you need to show yourself now, because I just not seeing You.” Now that is knowing you are thinking like a goat, and it needs to change! In Vincentian terms this is “Seeing Christ in the face of the poor.”
The Kings and royal imagery in the Bible never sits well with me. As I understand Salvation History, the Hebrews started out with Judges, not Kings. They only got Kings after begging God for a King. And, it seems that didn’t really work out quite like they anticipated. When Jesus enters the story, they are looking for a Messiah — an earthly warrior that will conquer others and rule as King. That doesn’t quite happen as this Messiah refuses to be a military warrior and walks a different path.
Maybe that is one of humanity’s great sins: the wish for a King, the wish for power, the desire to be a part of a winning Kingdom that dominates all other. As the story goes, Lucifer was thrown out of heaven for just that sort of power grab. It seems that Judas’s error was that he was trying to force Jesus’s hand and get him to be the Messiah that Judas wanted.
We need to be careful with this Christ the King imagery. It can lead us astray as we strive to make Christ the King into the earthly image of King, instead of the following the Son who fed Judas after washing the feet of His disciples. What king in his right mind would do that? Only a Servant King.
Remember that, and stay alert so as to serve Him in all things.