SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara
Immaculate Conception Cathedral Parish
9:00 am Eucharistic Celebration
November 25, 2017
Shepherd King (from Bishop Mylo’s book ‘A Shepherd’s Voice’, 2007)
Today we end the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. There is no better way to end our reflections on the words and deeds of Jesus than to reflect on the meaning of His kingship. The Gospel according to Matthew gives a beautiful parable that presents the kingship of Christ in a very pastoral way. The evangelist depicts Jesus as a king who shepherds his flock. As a shepherd-king, Jesus is concerned with three things: the last, the lost and the least.
The Last. The last day will be a time of final judgment. Jesus will reveal His true kingship as judge who will separate the good from the bad just like a shepherd separates sheep from the goats.
When I was on a pilgrimage tour in Israel some years ago, I witnessed sheep and goats mixed together on top of a hill. I easily distinguished the sheep from the goats because of their color; the sheep were colored beige while the goats were black. Once the shepherd called all his sheep, they immediately flocked to one direction and the goats were left behind. I saw how the sheep were separated from the goats. This image reveals how God‘s judgment also depends on us. We can decide to follow Jesus, our Shepherd. Or we may decide to be left behind like the goats. Jesus gives us the freedom to follow Him. It is also up to us if, on the Day of Judgment, we want to be part of His flock. Jesus, our Shepherd-King tells us that we can be judged as sheep of His flock if we cared for the least and the lost.
The Least. Jesus will ask us if we showed care and concern for the hungry, the thirsty and the naked. They are the least of our brothers and sisters who have been deprived of the basic needs of food, drink, and clothing, the poorest of the poor in our midst. They can also be our loved ones hungering and thirsting for love and attention in the family. They are the ones who hunger and thirst for justice, stripped naked of their human dignity because of oppression.
A good shepherd always provides for the needs of his weary and defenseless sheep. Jesus, our Chief Shepherd, will give us security and sufficiency: In the words of the psalmist: “Near restful water he leads me to revive my drooping spirit…. You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup overflowing.” We, too, are called to care for the weary and defenseless in our families and communities.
The Lost. Jesus will also ask us if we welcomed strangers or visited the sick and those in prison. They are our brothers and sisters who feel lost. They may be our family members who feel like strangers in our own homes; the aging and dying who have not been visited by their loved ones; and the inmates in jail who have been condemned
because of their crimes. They all feel lost because they have no one or nowhere to turn to when they feel rejected, lonely and depressed.
A good shepherd will search for his lost sheep. Remember what Jesus said: “I give them eternal life. They will never be lost and no one will ever steal them away from me.” (John 10:28) Jesus challenges us to seek the lost. All they desire is a listening heart so that they can find themselves once again and also feel at home with the persons around them.
The saints inspire us to care for the least and the lost. One of them is St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier and a Christian, who tore his soldier‘s coat and gave half to a beggar shivering during one cold winter day, not realizing that the beggar was Jesus. St. John Bosco is also one who sought the wandering youth during his time. Another is Blessed Damien of Molokai who ministered to the lepers and became one of them. And, of course, how can we miss out St. Teresa of Calcutta who fed and cared for the dying and destitute of India.
Let us take to heart the words of Jesus, our Shepherd-King: “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)