This Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday, also known as the Feast of Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the liturgical year and the last of Ordinary Time. Next week we will begin a new church year, which opens with the Advent season.
This week’s Lectionary passages talk a lot about the metaphor of God as Shepherd (Ezekiel 34), and of Christ as the King who separates the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25. In the Matthew 25 passage, Jesus gives the trademark activities of those who will inherit his commonwealth:
“I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.”
God, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in the Person of Christ
Before him, we were confused about your nature.
We thought you might be ruthless, unquenchably angry
We thought we had to get on your good side.
But Christ cleared up our confusion, and showed us:
That all your sides are good;
That the good news is good for all;
That we can trust in your justice, and in your mercy.
We thought you were a tyrant king
But you are really a Good Shepherd. (1)
You care for us.
We are your sheep.
You instruct us in your ways:
The way of mercy,
The way of generosity,
The way of compassion,
The way of friendship,
The way of peace. (2)
And so, Good Shepherd, lead us
Toward green pastures
Alongside still waters
Lead us, and restore our souls. (3)
And may we offer the same goodness to others:
To feed the hungry
To welcome the stranger
To clothe the naked
To care for the sick
To befriend the prisoner. (2)
Then everyone will know that we are your people
The sheep of your pasture (4);
That you are our ruler
And your law is love. (5)
1) Ezekiel 34:11
2) Matthew 25: 35, 36
3) Psalm 23
4) Psalm 100:3
5) Matthew 22:40, Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:10