by Edmond Lo

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. 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. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD. The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Brothers and sisters:

Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead came also through man. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 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.

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Edmond Lo
Like God


In celebrating the feast of Christ the King, one would expect the Mass readings to showcase Jesus, the Messianic King, reigning in heavenly glory. The scriptural passages that one would expect to hear would be perhaps the final triumph of Christ, the Word of God, the “King of kings and Lord of lords”, over all forces of evil (cf. Revelation 19:11-15); or perhaps the Ascension, in which the exalted Christ was crowned with glory at the right hand of God (cf. Mk 16:19).

Not quite. What we hear instead is a God whose greatest concern is his sheep, which are “scattered”, in need of “rest”, “strayed”, and “injured”; sheep that need to be shepherded rightly (see the 1st reading). Why are passages such as this the focus of the Christ the King celebration? What does shepherding have to do with Jesus’ kingship?

To God, a king should care about his people the way a shepherd cares about his flock: his duty is, first and foremost, to safeguard the well-being of the people that God entrusted to him. A king’s position of authority is given to him to serve and not to dictate, to give and not to receive, to empty himself (as Jesus did in emptying himself and sacrificing his life for us) and not to inflate. Unlike all the self-serving kings in history who misused the authority that God gave them for self-gratification, Jesus, the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) will take care of his people like a Good Shepherd. For “the Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want” (Ps 23:1), chanted David, whose unique position as a shepherd king is already a prefiguration of Christ. No wonder in the gospel reading, we are told that when the Son of Man comes in his glory, “all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Mt 25:32).

This is a powerful message for everyone in a leadership position to reflect on. Kings and governors, clergy and church leaders, teachers and parents: Are you using your God-given authority and resources for the edification of the people entrusted to your care and not for your own self-gratification? Do you use your power to serve or to oppress? Are you good shepherds? Your honest answers to these questions may well determine where Jesus, the Shepherd King, will place you when he returns in his glory. You will either join the sheep on his right that go off to eternal life, or find yourselves among the goats on his left that are bound for eternal punishment (cf. Mt. 25:33,46).

As we conclude this reflection on Christ the King, let’s lift up our gaze to the Crucifix where Pilate’s inscription “INRI” (Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews), ominously displayed atop the Cross and strategically placed above the battered and bloodied body of the crucified Christ, reminds the world what a king truly looks like.