Signpost for Sunday 26 November, 2017 (the feast of Christ the King): Ezek 34:11-16, 20-24;
Ps 100 or 95:1-7a; Eph 1:15-23; Matt 25:31-46.
Before we have a look at this week’s readings it’s worth exploring the feast of Christ the King, because, as we all know, Jesus enjoyed a good meal.
As I discovered almost five years ago to the day, the Feast of Christ the King, though, has as much to do with world history as it does with Jesus’s title, King of kings (Rev 19:16). It didn’t exist before 1925, and there was good reason why the then Pope, Pius IX decided a new feast was called for. It was a mere seven years after the end of the First World War and in its devastating wake, most people were far more interested in nationalism and secularism than they were in religion. Pius XI decided people needed to be reminded who is the ruler of all kings and kaisers on earth (Rev 1:5). Despite the entrée of the feast occurring before another world war broke out, it wasn’t until 1969 that Pope Paul VI established the feast as an annual occurrence that should take place on the last Sunday in the liturgical year. Maybe the swinging sixties brought that on, who knows.
Anyway, here we are on the last Sunday in the 2017 liturgical year, with one of the most famous of passages from Matthew, which does indeed seem to echo exactly what Pius XI had in mind.
I wonder though what most people think when they hear this reading in church. Do they struggle with the idea that here is a vision of the end of times? If you are interested in the question of when Jesus is coming again, I like this answer from John Petty: “Jesus never left, has been here all along, and is present right now in the little, the least, the lone, and the lost.”
Or are you like me and you get a bit anxious because although I’d like to be sheep I suspect I am a goat? No help from Matthew here, he seems to be saying that whichever you are you’ll be surprised at your fate.
I’ve no idea, except to say that I tend to think that anyone who is convinced they are a sheep, is probably a goat, and anyone who is convinced they are a goat, is almost certainly rather sheepish.
P.S. This is our last Signpost for 2017. Enormous thanks to you all for reading, and tremendous gratitude to Andrew, George and Shelia for joining me at the Signpost each week. We will be back, God willing, in February 2018. Love and peace till then, and beyond.