Ezekiel 34: 11-12, 15-17,
Psalm 23,
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28,
Matthew 25:31-46

David was a shepherd before he was anointed king of Israel. Today, on this Solemnity of Christ the King, the readings emphasize that Jesus, too, is a shepherd-king. The Responsorial, Psalm 23, is the Good Shepherd psalm. The Alleluia Verse makes a reference to King David: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come.”


God seems to delight in describing himself as a shepherd. Through Ezekiel, the Lord promises to tend his flock and rescue them from being scattered. He will pasture them and give them rest. After the Lord states that he will seek the lost, bring back the strayed, bind up the injured and heal the sick, he adds a word about judging between one sheep and another, between sheep and goats. This is then echoed in the gospel.


The gospel presents Jesus, the Son of Man, judging the nations on the basis of what we have come to call “the corporal works of mercy.” As in the first reading, the shepherd will separate the sheep from the goats. But Jesus is here also presented as a king. The king says to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To those on the left, the king will say, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” In this gospel, Jesus is depicted as shepherd, judge and king.


In the second reading, St. Paul proclaims the resurrection of Jesus. I think one of the most beautiful and powerful verses of Scripture is this one: “Then comes the end, when he (Christ) hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put his enemies under his feet.” Jesus is gloriously reigning until all his enemies are completely subjected to him. This is the era that we’re in now, awaiting that glorious day when Jesus “has put all his enemies under his feet.” May that day come quickly!


 As a point of personal disclosure, this Solemnity is a great personal favorite of mine. I rejoice in the verses of the Entrance Antiphon: “How worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and divinity, and wisdom and strength and honor. To him belong glory and power for ever and ever.”

I also love the words of the Preface, which proclaims that Jesus presents to the Father, “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.”

The Prayer After Communion sums up our ultimate desire: “…we ask, O Lord, that, glorying in obedience to the commands of Christ, the King of the universe, we may live with him eternally in his heavenly kingdom.” To which, all we can say is, Amen! Viva Cristo Rey!

Al Mansfield