Christ the King. Sounds regal and ancient. Actually, it’s not. It’s a modern-day festival, one with much background and history. A bit about that historical perspective… It was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, as an answer to increasing nationalism that surrounded the church. It was in response to the secularism and modernity that surrounded God’s people. It was a response in the face of Mussolini and Hitler and others like them, that the Pope said no, wait a minute – Christ is the King. A message we still need to hear today.
And so our very last Gospel reading of the church year, we have Matthew telling us – reminding us of the gifts of God – and of Christ’s call to be the servant people that Jesus by his life showed us to be. And the Easter people that by his death Christ makes us. After all, it is what the King wants. It is what the Kingdom is about.
Our lessons this morning are clear and straightforward. Ezekiel describing God as a shepherd who seeks out and cares for the most vulnerable of the flock. Paul reminds us that Christ is Lord of all – despite current appearances and despite views to the contrary. And our Gospel is descriptive of Jesus’ ministry and serves as a blueprint for ours…with one of the easiest verses to remember, to understand, and one that gives a clear picture of what it means to be a baptized Christian – to be the church – the servant Body of Christ.
…”Just as you did it to the least of these”…Jesus says…”you have done it to me…”
There’s no better way to respond than to say that yes, that’s why we have the servant ministry that we do. Why we describe this Family of Faith – as “a Christ-centered servant community…always seeking new ways to share the Gospel…”
The words in today’s lessons remind us that God is a God of grace who cares for all of his children…especially the most vulnerable. Let’s put that in some modern-day context. We take seriously the promises that God makes to God’s people in our baptisms. God’s promises of forgiveness, grace, new life, eternal life and Christian community. But understand that God also promises justice for God’s children.
Of all the lessons we could have had for this last Sunday of the Church year, how powerful it is to hear those words, “…just as you did it to the least of these…you have done it to me.”
And that helps us to understand that Food Drives and Soup Kitchens, advocacy and hospitality, CROP and Mission Support, Broadway House and Imagine, Tutoring and Tennessee and a Sharing Tree, are not just nice things to do…Rather, they are, the very essence of the Gospel. They are signs of the kingdom. They are part of the package of God’s promises. We dare not take anything for granted in a world that rewards demagoguery and pomp. Where the church is seen as taking a back seat to materialism and secularism.