Today is the feast of Christ the King. Christ is to be the king of Christians, and not any worldly power. However, as the readings make clear, he is not an ordinary king. The first readings connect his kingship to his also being a loving shepherd, who protects and guides. King David of the Old Testament was also a shepherd and an unexpected king: while his brothers were being lined up to be considered for kingship, he was out in the fields, watching the sheep. Yet God wanted that ruddy cheeked shepherd to rule Israel. Likewise, Jesus’ kingship is more that of a shepherd who protects his flock than a ruler who desires to lord his own power over others, or to compete for the highest place of prestige or honor.
The Gospel reading really brings home how different this kingship is, for in reading Matthew’s words that we find Jesus in the thirsty, hungry, imprisoned, and all those in need, we are invited to ask: where is the throne of this King? Where is Christ’s throne? Not only up in heaven, or in an earthly political power, but within each human being. The person in prison is where Christ resides. The person who is hungry is where Christ resides. So, too, in those who extend care in offering a cup of water, companionship, or a shoulder to cry on: Christ is in us when we are the ones in need and Christ is in us when we are the ones offering care to others, too. We are invited to participate in the work of the Shepherd and King, through our reciprocal care, guidance, and ministries for and with others.