Catholics have been celebrating Christ under the title of ‘King’ for almost a hundred years. In 1925 the then pope instituted this feast to counteract the rise of atheism and secularism. Rather than these ‘-isms’, Christ is the ultimate ruler of the universe. At that time the popular image of a national or world ruler was dictatorial and imperious. The Gospel today puts before us the image of the simple shepherd as a world ruler. Christ the good shepherd came among us to seek out the lost, bind up the injured and heal the sick. Good Pope Francis keeps reminding us that the Church is like a field hospital where the injured and lost can find refuge and healing.

Atheism, secularism, communism, materialism, Nazi-ism, and a host of other isms have had their day. All have been tried and found wanting, except Christianity, which has not yet been properly tried. Living in a not-for-profit manner subverts the dynamic of our world which turns on the axis of power, success and prestige. The Kingdom of Christ operates according to the rule of mercy, compassion and hospitality. It’s where the hungry are fed, the stranger is welcomed, the naked clothed, and where the sick, jailed and lonely are offered understanding, companionship and re-assurance. Today’s feast celebrates all who are warm hearted and generous neighbours to anyone who is in trouble and needing help.

Then the virtuous will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry….’? Catholics are often surprised to hear that in caring for the needs of suffering people they are ministering to the Lord himself. What kind of king disguises himself as poor and needy? Isn’t it odd that many of us would not think to look among the lowly for God’s presence, even though our sacred scripture is clear about this? The readings for this last Sunday of the Christian year lift up the corporal works of mercy. It is a veritable map to find God in the everyday. I think the key to this map is prayer. “A prayer that does not lead you to practical action for your sister or your brother in difficulty is a sterile or incomplete prayer . . . The life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service” – Pope Francis, 28th World Youth Day 2013.

If today’s first reading from Ezekiel is about how God shepherds his flock, it is even more so about our care for Christ in our troubled sisters and brothers. The great parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind in which the Samaritan was everything to the one who had been set upon by robbers, beaten and left for dead. The Sama

Fr. QQ – 22/11/2023

I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me…  Galatians 2:20


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