Reflection 112220 November 22, 2020
Ephesians 1:15-23/ Matthew 25:31-46
Reign of Christ in Our Midst
It does not easily make sense to talk about reign and monarchs because we do not live in a strictly monarchial system today. Of course, there is the queen of England, but she does not reign over us in the same sense as in Europe 500 years ago. If we are to call Christ the king, we should examine the monarchs of the past who truly ruled, not like today’s constitutional monarch in England. But when we examine kings and queens of the past, we learn that it is difficult to find monarchs who seriously cared about their subjects. Most of them were greedy and busy with their desires and ambitions. If you ever bother to read the Old Testament, you will find that most kings were evaluated as evil. King David was Israel’s ideal king, but even he was not perfect. It is the same thing in the European history as well as in the Korean. But Korea produced a king who spent his whole reign trying to improve the lives of his subjects. We call him the Great King Sejong. There are several kings in the Korean history who are dubbed “great”, but before King Sejong, the “great” kings were warrior kings who expanded our territories, which I do not consider great. Great King Sejong felt heartbroken for his subjects who were poor and uneducated. He formed a group of scholars for technological advancement, and most of all, he is responsible for the invention of the Korean alphabet system. Until then, we had to use Chinese characters, and they are so difficult to learn that most people had to live their lives without the ability to read or write. A small percentage of privileged people hogged knowledge and information. King Sejong also recruited smart people no matter of their backgrounds. His chief scientist was the son of a slave. He was truly innovative. Unfortunately, monarchs like him are rare everywhere.
Today is Reign of Christ Sunday – the last Sunday of the Christian Year. When we talk about the reign of Christ and Christ as king, we should examine what kind of king we are talking about. I may have mentioned in the past, possibly during Lent, that the Israelites who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and hailed him as king eventually turned on him because he didn’t turn out to be the politically powerful leader they expected. Today’s Ephesians text explains that Jesus received the power of God to reign as God’s representative or agent, but what kind of a king is our Christ? Today’s gospel text holds the answer.
In today’s gospel text, which is the Parable of the Great Judgment, the Son of Man judges the nations and divides them into two groups. He commends the group of the righteous for having helped him when he was in need. When they asked when they had helped him, he says, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Likewise, the sinners were punished because they hadn’t helped “the least of these who are members of my family.” Think about what kind of a leader Jesus was during his lifetime. Think about last Sunday’s message about doing something good with our talents and resources. What kind of a king is Christ? The kind of a king who rejected material possessions and spent all his public life serving people and working for the greater good, that’s what kind. The kind of a king who lived for God’s reign and didn’t back down till his execution. He lived and died to spread God’s reign of justice on earth, to bring hope to the suffering.
We learned that we serve God by serving our neighbours. As Jesus was God’s representative, we are Jesus’ representatives on earth. It is our mission to continue his earthly work of spreading God’s reign on earth and bringing hope to the suffering. As in one of the hymns in More Voices, “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands but yours. Here on this earth, yours is the work, to serve with the joy of compassion.” This is what the reign of Christ is about, and this is our mission as his followers.
We start the Christian Year with the hope and anticipation of the Holy birth. Anticipation and hope entail uncertainty; we do not know what is coming. But after a year, we end the Christian Year with the certainty of declaring that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he is God’s representative in the reign of God. On this last day of the Christian Year, we celebrate the fulfillment of the biblical revelation of God in Christ. We declare God’s reign to which we commit ourselves. Therefore, before we start Advent next week, let us put our trust in Christ and declare God’s kingdom based on compassion and justice. Let us recommit ourselves to the works of God’s reign. As Jesus did and taught, let us go out into our communities to love, serve, help, and bring the hope of God’s kingdom.