When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
-Matthew 25: 31-32
We did it! We've made it to the end of the year. This Sunday marks both the final Sunday in the liturgical calendar and Christ the King Sunday, also known as The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This celebration of Christ as King is relatively modern and was started by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a reaction to the denial of Christ's authority among European governments of the time. The term "messiah" and "Christ" themselves are royal titles, meaning, "anointed one", or alternately, "anointed king". We end the liturgical year in this way to prepare us for Advent, where we await the coming of the Christ child, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When we think of kings, we probably think of golden crowns, luxurious palaces, and militaristic achievements. But we know Jesus didn't come as this kind of worldly king, but instead came to humbly serve the least of these. This passage in Matthew goes on to say that the "sheep" are those that will inherit the kingdom, while the "goats" are sent to eternal fire. It's interesting because, as you'll hear Sunday, modern sheepherders tend to prefer goats over sheep, because, well, sheep are dumb and kind of smelly! Isn't it ironic then that Jesus refers to the righteous as stinky sheep and not goats? This makes me think of how Jesus was always calling the Pharisees out, even though they appeared to be holier than others on the surface.
As we celebrate Christ's sovereignty over the universe this Sunday, take some time to reflect on the ways in which you are living your own life. Are you living as Christ taught us by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned? There are so many people in need in the world, that it can seem overwhelming to serve. But our Cosmic Christ guides us to serve. Let us continue to serve those in need as the sheep of our Shepherd King.