Christ, our king, models humble service rather than haughty reign

| Deacon Ben Kociemba | November 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

The church celebrates the feast of Christ the King Nov. 20, and invites us into a mystery that is paradoxical.

In the Gospel reading for the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Jesus talks about how the Son of Man will come with the angels and sit on his throne, and it is there that he will separate the sheep from the goats. In the glorious end times, this king will have destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power, including death.

But this reality is coupled with the one presented in the Lectionary readings for Christ the King from other years, which portrays Jesus on trial before Pontius Pilate (John’s Gospel) and Jesus on the cross being snickered at by the soldiers (Luke’s Gospel). Apparently, this is no ordinary king.

In fact, he was born not in a palace but a cave. He was not an oppressor but rather a servant who got down on his hands and knees to wash the feet of his disciples. He did not reign from a throne but a cross in a garbage dump outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

This paradox is key to understanding Christ’s kingship. Jesus, as our ruler, places his love for his people at the forefront of his rule. Quoting Ezekiel, he says: “As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I will tend my sheep. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up” (Ezekiel  34:11-12).

It is such a unique form of kingship that we must contemplate it and let it penetrate deep into our own hearts.

As we are driving to work thinking about our next sales call or anticipating that co-worker who is difficult to deal with, do we remember it?

A model of loving concern

Do we have in the back of our mind God’s triumphant love for us so that we don’t have any undue anxiety and that he will be there to help us if we but invite him in?

This reality isn’t mere wishful thinking or naïve optimism. It’s the Good News!

Christ invites all of us into the life of humility that he himself entered into most perfectly as the foundation of his kingship. We are called not to become so engrossed in our daily anxieties that we lose track of the larger picture and the people who matter (or should matter) to us.

Christ’s kingship of loving concern becomes the model for all the things we control. We need to be careful that we don’t form this bubble of haughty self-concern and forget that Grandma should be visited in the nursing home, that we should have time to have lunch with a family member who is struggling, or attend our kid’s ballgame.

In other words, we don’t want to make the mistake of the rich man who is so occupied with his own life that he doesn’t even notice that Lazarus is at his door seeking his rightful share of food.

The blessed who will reign with Christ on the final day of glory are those who truly understand Christ the King.

Deacon Ben Kociemba is in formation for the priesthood at The St. Paul Seminary for the Diocese of St. Cloud. His home parish is St. Mary in Melrose and his teaching parish is All Saints in Holdingford.


Readings for Nov. 20

Christ the King

  • Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
  • Matthew 25:31-46

For reflection

Reflect on Christ’s kingship and look for a specific way that you can humbly serve someone, today.

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Category: Sunday Scriptures