Today our liturgy opens with Ezekiel’s well-known image of God as a shepherd. God promises to tend his people as a shepherd would his flock. Shepherd imagery is often used when the Biblical writers talk about kingship, indeed, David, the most famous king of all, is called from the sheepfold to be anointed king. Shepherds risked their lives to ensure the well being of their flocks, they scanned for danger and searched for pasture. They needed to know their flocks and to be able to separate any creatures that were not part of their flocks.
When we lay this Old Testament imagery alongside today’s parable of the Sheep and the Goats there are multiple layers of meaning. We are presented with a shepherd who knows his flock and Jesus who knows each one of us individually. Both the shepherd and Jesus lay down their lives for the well-being of those entrusted to them. In the context of the last Sunday of the liturgical year there is another note which sounds and it is that of judgement. While we might think of this as an image of final judgement, we can also see it as our servant king standing before us today, showing us the past year.
Have I recognised Jesus?
Have I had courage to respond?
In this last week of the liturgical year our comforts and protections are stripped away. Our servant King stands before us, inviting us into the mystery of the Incarnation, inviting us to follow him.
Christ the King
Mathew 25: 31-46
Our King is calling from the hungry furrows
Whilst we are cruising through the aisles of plenty,
Our hoardings screen us from the man of sorrows,
Our soundtracks drown his murmur: ‘I am thirsty’.
He stands in line to sign in as a stranger
And seek a welcome from the world he made,
We see him only as a threat, a danger,
He asks for clothes, we strip-search him instead.
And if he should fall sick then we take care
That he does not infect our private health,
We lock him in the prisons of our fear
Lest he unlock the prison of our wealth.
But still on Sunday we shall stand and sing
The praises of our hidden Lord and King.
Our King is calling, can I hear him?