Spirituality of the Readings
Make Your Choice
Not only is Sunday the feast of Christ the King, it is the last Sunday of the Church year! Advent will begin in a week! We should begin getting nervous about Christmas presents, shouldn’t we? And family dinner? Or else why we will not have a family to celebrate with?
Yes, but let us not get ahead of ourselves. For now we need only ask why the churches have chosen to mark Christ as “king.” Did they think we would understand our year better this way?
In a word, yes. We will be helped by looking at the Christ we have looked over the past months! And a revealing way to look is at the readings for Christ the King.
Thus the shepherd imagery of the First Reading. We are asked if we have let God’s sheep scatter over the face of the earth? Have we maybe eaten the sheep instead of tending them? If so, God said, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep. The injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.”
This is a beautiful passage. Throughout history, God continually sought out his people, we are told, inviting them to a mutual relationship. It is the foundation of our faith. He shepherds us today in the same way!
Then the Responsorial Psalm, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” If we are paying attention we see that God is still being the shepherd, as he promised. Goodness and kindness are all around us. God has us walk beside restful waters, through green pastures.
Gratitude fills our hearts.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells us about Christ, who is God’s shepherding made concrete. In spite of the rampage of death and sorrow and sin, Christ brings the First Reading’s light and peace to the world!
Finally, the Gospel tells us in a parable who will get to have this light and peace. Not everyone! Some people have been goats instead.
Alright, how do we become sheep, in spite of our goatish tendencies? Or how do we become, at least sometimes, the sheep? Simple. We care for the Lord in other people. Yes.
Instead of goatishly taking our own preferences as the goals for our lives, though we must do that too, we join God as the one who cares for others. We dip into the restful waters with Jesus, we offer everything, with him, for the poor and needy, not because it is simpler but because this is the way the Lord has taken among us as the very way of God. The way of the King.
You see, the example is God, who gives according to the many needs of the least of his brothers and sisters. Instead of sleeping restfully in the slumber of non-acting, we are to join with Christ as one among very many shepherds. We are asked to say “yes.”
Yes to the God who loves without prejudice, to the Christ who spent life as a non entity, to the shepherd who would love his sheep to the very end. We will be cared for insofar as we care for them!
Next week: the new year of God’s love!
John Foley, SJ
Fr. John Foley, SJ is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
**From Saint Louis University