Queen Elizabeth II of England has reigned as that country’s monarch for 65 years now. She is a beloved figure in all of Great Britain and in many parts of the world. The Queen has become sort of a “grandmother” on the world stage, even as her role is rather limited. In fact, the practical and official leader of the United Kingdom is actually the Prime Minister, Theresa May, who was elected about two years ago. Not everyone there likes Ms. May; but they almost universally love the Queen.
Not that democracy is a bad thing; but today, more often, the result of an election is disenchantment on the part of those whose candidate didn’t make it, and a strong feeling of disunity among a nation. A good elected leader seeks to rebuild that unity. However, there has to be something around which to build that unity. Do we find ourselves getting angry at a “Trump” or “Hillary” bumper sticker, only to miss the Rosary hanging from our fellow motorists mirror? Unity requires focus.
This is the power of the solemnity that we celebrate today – at the unique point of the last Sunday of Ordinary Time: Christ the King. For Christians – regardless of our political leaders here on earth – Jesus is the sovereign Head of our lives. Like Queen Elizabeth, we look to Christ as the center of our identity, and we ought to be proud of that fact. This celebration is a reminder to us that no matter where or when we are, Christ is the King. We are united under Him and in Him.
This unity is more than just looking in the same direction, or having the same images of Jesus on our walls at home. Instead, it is a complete way of being and thinking. We should be so connected to Jesus our King that we recognize Him everywhere. Christ’s words in the gospel today underscore this fact. We are meant to recognize Jesus in the hungry and the thirsty, in the stranger and the naked, in the ill and imprisoned – and we are meant to respond to Him there as well. In fact, when we do or don’t, these actions are considered as done or not done for Christ Himself.
Therefore, having Jesus as our King means a transformation of our perspective. Rather than looking for those things that divide us from one another, we are to seek to see Christ – who enters those divisions and heals them. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. The prophet Ezekiel here reminds us that the role of the Shepherd is to maintain one flock, to gather them together, and to keep them safe.
We belong to that one flock; we belong to Jesus. We share with Him in the resurrection from the dead, and we are called to that same eternal destiny of blessedness and joy. However, we are first called to be united as members of His Kingdom here on earth. We can lose that if we lose sight of that unity; we can lose it if we lose sight of Him. Therefore, Jesus reminds us that we must recognize Him wherever and whenever we encounter Him – be it in familiar, comfortable faces, or in the “distressing disguises” that He most often wears.
Friends, if we are to be able to recognize Jesus in these least brothers and sisters of His, then we need to practice recognizing Him where He is. It can be no accident. As subjects of the Kingdom of Christ the King, we must make time to dwell on that presence of Christ in our midst. Yes, He is there in the homeless, the poor, the imprisoned, and the refugee; but He is beautifully present too in the Eucharist. We can only fully understand and appreciate this fact if we practice recognizing Him now.
Therefore, this Wednesday, we are offering Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – of Jesus Christ our King – at the Chapel at Our Lady of Hope, from 8:30am until 7:00pm. Please, take some time to sit in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus and remember that we belong to Him. There, in the silence of Christ the King, we can focus on the unity that we are all called to – and then forge a society rooted in that unity.