Feast of Christ The King: Living the kingship, citizenship…
Before and during the time of Jesus, the term “shepherd” was basically inseparable from the term ‘kingship”. It is for this reason that David is referred to in the Bible as a “Shepherd-King”. The terms shepherd and king seem contradictory to each other if our understanding of shepherding today is anything to go by. Today in the Catholic World, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King. It is the celebration of the great kingship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ which He won for Himself not by dominations and oppression but by humble service of saving mankind by the shedding of his blood on the Cross of Calvary.
Pope Pius XI had in 1925 instituted this feast in order to lay more emphasis on the social and political consequences of the Kingship of Christ on the human society. The Old Testament of the Chris tian Sacred Book, the Holy Bible, is adorned with many references of would-be Messiah as a King (Cfr. 1 kg. 2: 1-10; Ps. 2:44;Is. 9:6-7; Ez. 34:23; Jer. 23:3-4). The New Testament is also filled with a lot of references to Jesus Christ as a King. In Lk. 1:33, the Archangel Gabriel refers to Jesus’ Kingdom as having no end. Christ himself would later state that “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28: 10). Hence, In Christ Jesus is embodied all three organs of government, namely, legislative, executive, and judiciary.
Despite these affirmations of his kingship, Jesus during his time on earth among the Jews, never gave way to “messianic enthusiasm of the Jews so mixed with human hopes and earthly aspirations (Cfr. Lk. 13:31ff; 9:7ff; Mk. 12:13-17; Jn 6:15).” In his conversation with Nathaniel who would later be known as Bartholomew, Christ turned his faith acclamation: “You are the king of Israel” to the paruosia, that is the second coming of the Son of Man (Jn. 1:49). On many occasions, Christ Jesus evaded the title of a king. For in John 6, after he had fed more than five thousand men not counting women and children, the people tried to forcefully make him their king, but he refused.
The only time he openly accepted the title of a king was during his triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Lk. 19:38; Jn. 12:13)affirming the prediction of Zechariah (9:9) and during Pilate’s interrogation of Him. During this conversation with Pilate, Christ had acknowledged his royalty as not of this world (Jn. 18:37-38). Hence, we can say that the Kingship of Christ is a “spiritual kingdom of truth, holiness, grace, justice, love and peace. It is a kingdom made up of those whom Christ himself has redeemed.” Closely knit together with his kingship is another title, ‘The Shepherd”. Christ is not just the King of the redeemed but their shepherd.
As a Shepherd, Christ knows, loves, serves, cares, and watches over his flock (sheep). But he will also judge the sheep at the end of time. Earlier in the Old Testament, God had revealed to the Prophet Ezekiel that He would lead his flock by himself for the shepherds and kings He (God) had sent earlier had mishandled his flock (Ezek. 34:11-12, 15-17). In so doing, He would lead them again to the grazing pastures of the mountains of Israel. Further addressing his flock through the prophet God says: “I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats” (Ezek. 34:17). The above prophecy has been fully fulfilled in Christ the Shepherd-King who has come not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45).
Indeed, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. But he is not a King who dominates, exploits, and oppresses his people. He is a King who dedicates himself to divine and humble service of his people. In contrast to earthly kings, Jesus died for his flock, his people. He is a Crucified King, the King that made the Cross his palace. No wonder he says in John 10:11, “The Good Shepherd (King) lays down his life for the sheep…” From the aforementioned, Christ as the Shepherd-King is the King who offers himself in humble service to others even to the point of giving up his own life. Usually, in any kingdom, the king is always the last to be captured or killed. All the subjects would ensure that they fight to the very last drop of their blood before they surrender their king.
But it is the opposite in the case of Christ the Shepherd-King. He died so that his subjects may live. For this reason, the Shepherd-King has the Power and authority to judge justly the living and the dead, the entire human race (Matt. 25: 31-46). As a way of evaluation, it is important to note that we can not have a better role model of leadership than Jesus Christ. Whatever positions that we occupy today must be patterned after the humble service of Christ the Shepherd-King. “Looking into our country Nigeria today, we surely need role models and Christ Jesus should be the number one on our list. We need leaders who will think less of themselves and more of the large populace.
Poverty and ignorance are ravaging the land like wildfire, yet we see many of our leaders victimizing the poor and the needy. This must stop if they have any hope in eternity. Mark 10:45 therefore, must be the motto of our leadership and even citizenship if we hope to have a merciful judgement on the last day. For power, money, bombs, missiles, bullets, have never sustained any kingdom or empire. But Unselfish love in humble service has as typified in Christ the Shepherd-King”. To achieve this, let us guide against these Seven Deadly Sins according to Mahatma K. Ghandhi: “Wealth without Work; Pleasure Without Conscience; Knowledge Without Character; Commerce (Business) Without Morality (Ethics); Science Without Humanity; Religion Without Sacrifice; and Politics Without Principle”. If we imbibe these principles of humble living and service to one another, our world