- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

November 26, 2017

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

Solemnity of Christ the King
Patronal Feast of the Abbey of Genesee
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; Matthew 25:31-46

Today is the last Sunday in the liturgical year and we are celebrating our patronal feast – Christ the King. Christ is the King of the Universe because He is true God. Christ is ruler of the human race because He is true man, the first born from the dead. Christ alone is ruler of all because He alone created all things has absolute power all things. Christ is true King because he is the redeemer of the human race and in Him the whole of creation has been made new. When Christ took our sinful nature to Himself and nailed it to the wood of the Cross, He restored in us the image of God which we had lost through sin. In Him we have been reconciled with God the Father.

“The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal” (Ezekiel 34:16). As I was reading this passage from the prophet Ezekiel, I reminded of an old saying: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” God was well aware of His people’s plight and desired to rescue them. Throughout salvation history, we read how God continued to work with numerous people to establish His Kingdom. We are familiar with how, after removing Saul from the throne of Israel, Samuel was sent to seek Jesse’s son to be king. This ruddy youth was attested to be “a man after God’s own heart; someone who could be counted on to do everything God wanted him to do” (CF. Acts 13:22). The shepherd who would be king was to become the ancestor of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, who was become our Shepherd King. “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:28).

The Only-begotten Son of God is the King of the Universe. The Universal Church, in general, and the Church of Genesee, in particular, bends the knee to Him. As we would serve His Father, we pledge ourselves to serve the Only-begotten Son with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength (CF. Deut. 6:4). The One we serve is the shepherd king who cares for us with utmost compassion and love. Having been recipients of such loving-kindness, we are to extend compassionate love to others. “For when I was thirsty, you gave me a drink; hungry, you gave me food; imprisoned, you set me free; naked, you clothed me. What you did for the least of these, you did for me” (Mat 26: 35-36, 40).

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who came into the world to take away all our sins and extend mercy to us. He is the shepherd king who came into the world to seek out the lost and carry them back to the fold. Because of his great love for the human race, Christ laid down his life so that all people might have eternal life. Because of the Father’s great love for us, Christ draws all of us to our heavenly homeland. He will strengthen us when we are weak and be the light for our path when we are in darkness. In order for us to be saved, Christ desires that we keep the ears of our hearts attentive to his voice. Whoever responds to His voice will find themselves in love’s embrace, safe under Christ’s provident gaze. Our shepherd king walks ahead of us on the path of life. He knows His own and waits for them to follow.

Jesus calls each of us by name. He stands at the door of our heart and knocks, waiting for us to hear His voice and open to Him. We have been drawn into a relationship with God because He has first loved us. We belong to the shepherd King who is the incarnation of the Father’s Love. We belong to the shepherd king who loves us without caution, without measure, without concern for pre-existing conditions. Such love, freely given, cannot go unanswered. Even though this love is offered unconditionally, demanding nothing in return, it so sets hearts on fire that all who experience it are led to love back, despite their limitations and sins. Knowing that we have been loved, we must open our hearts to God’s grace and compassionate love. Transformed by God’s infinite love, we will be empowered to love both God and all that He loves. As servants of the shepherd King we are invited to walk with Him the way of the Cross so as to gain with Him the fullness of life. By Father’s will and the movement of the Holy Spirit, we are drawn into communion with Him Who is the “first fruit of those who have fallen asleep.” The sheep of His flock are those who act kindly, mercifully, and lovingly towards the marginalized and the poor, even if they haven’t known Christ. I will close with a few words penned by William Blake:

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love
  All pray in their distress
And return these virtues of delight
  Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy has a human heart,
  Pity a human face,
And Love–the human form divine,
  And Peace, the human dress.

And all must love the human form,
  In Heathen, Turk or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
 There is God dwelling too.
—-William Blake