Solemnity of Christ the King
Solemnity of Christ the King
November 26, 2017
Do you ever watch the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal”? In its simplest format, you get a choice of what’s behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. When I was a kid I always wanted to be on that show and say, “I’ll take what’s behind all of them, Monty.” But it doesn’t work that way. At least not as well as in our faith story as on this Solemnity of Christ the King.
This Solemnity, the last weekend of our liturgical year, gives us three very distinct and different images of the last days, the end of time. Behind Door #1, from the prophet Ezekiel suggests that at the end of the world, God will appear as a good shepherd to rescue his flock. It holds the sheep in kind of a passive role, able to be rescued by the loving shepherd. It rests upon the promise that God will not ever forget the meek and there will be reward for the good. While the strong and the sleek will get what they deserve for taking advantage of the weak, the image Ezekiel offers is one of a gentle shepherd, not a warrior; a restorer of what is right; not a vindictive ending, but one that is just and gentle, a reminder that life is a gift and that God will be there waiting to rescue us.
Behind Door #2, we find Mathew. Matthew gives us a very black and white image. There is no wiggle room here. When the Son of Man appears in glory, seated on the throne, he will separate the sheep from the goats. It holds that our salvation is not the result of the judgment of God, but judgment that we place upon ourselves by the way we lived our life, holding us completely responsible for our fate. It is vivid image, with burning fires of hell for those who refused to show kindness in Christ’s name. We have been given freedom and how we choose how to live today will fashion our eternal future.
Then there is Door #3. The third image comes from St. Paul. It is kind of a more cosmic image when God will be all in all; where everything will come back to the Creator of life; when all of creation will be caught up in the energy of God; when the love and life of God will conquer all things, even death itself. This third image is most in line with science as we know it, and sees Christ as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Given Image #1 (the good shepherd) or Image #2 (the sheep and goats) or Image #3 (the cosmic completion of creation)…which would you choose?
The Good news is that we don’t have to choose. We can have all three! All three images come from our tradition; all reveal something about God and where life is heading. All three images see love at the heart of human history and the completion of the universe. Because there are moments in life that we are going to need that comforting image of the loving shepherd, assuring us that what is beyond our control does not go unnoticed by God, giving us reassurance that even when we seem to be forgotten in the chaos of life, we are not. At other moments we will need to be confronted by the stark truth that how we live our life does, indeed, matter in the end; that the choices we make in life today in regard to our brothers and sisters literally create our eternal future. And still at other times, we just surrender to the mystical vision of love, the union of all of creation with the Creator, that God is bigger than our small minds can imagine and somehow, God will make it right.
Because no matter what door we choose or when we choose it or when it chooses us – Love will always win.