We are all too familiar with how the human family has been divided and scattered in our days: in family life and marriage; through vast migrations due to wars, drugs, and terror; even within the Church there is a vast alienation of so many Catholics. It seems to me that the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is to reverse this wholesale scattering of peoples and families by gathering them once more under His gentle and liberating rule.
The words of the prophet Ezekiel seem particularly important here. Ezekiel speaks of the true king who like a loving shepherd would gather the Israelites from every place where they were scattered. Listen to the words of this king: “I myself will look after my sheep…I will rescue them…I will give them rest…I will seek out…bring back…bind up…heal.” Is there a better description of what Our Lord Jesus did to reverse the forces of scattering? He took responsibility for us. Perfectly one with His Father, He made Himself perfectly one with us, identifying Himself with the least of His brothers and sisters. When it was “cloudy and dark,” as dark as it can get, He fought and overcame our great enemy – death itself – and He frees us from the fear of death. He seeks out disfigured families and gives a word of consolation and mercy; He stirs up aid for those who are forced from their homes; He offers healing to the disaffected in His Church, and by the wounds in His hands and His side He shows them how much they mean to Him.
These are all reasons for hope that the forces of scattering will not prevail. But there is another reason that all this is important for us. At our baptism we were anointed by the Spirit of God to share in the kingly mission of Our Lord. It’s part of our spiritual DNA. In the ordinary events of our monastic life we share in this mission: in the Infirmary we bind up and heal; in the kitchen and refectory we are very well pastured; in the Guest House we welcome strangers and offer them a blessed rest; in our daily encounters with one another, we bring back, we bind up, we give rest, and we free one another from the fear of death. Our humble services make it possible for us to gather daily around Our Head and King. And I’m sure that much the same happens in the ordinary lives of our friends who are gathered with us today.
Brothers and sisters, today we celebrate the kingly mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and like Our Lady we share in His mission. Our prayer is united with His prayer and with the prayer of the Queen of heaven and earth. And with them we gather into one the People of God until the last and least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters are gathered to share His life-giving bread and sacred wine. Let us thank God for this marvelous gift and mission! “Christ, King of Glory! Christ, Prince of nations! Christ our King of Kings! To Him only is victory, all praise and jubilation, through all the endless ages of eternity. Amen!”
Photograph of a bas relief of the Resurrected Christ in the Abbey orchards by Michael Rivera. Father Vincent's Homily for the Feast of Christ the King.