St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

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Lessons and Reflections for the Last Sunday of Pentecost – Christ the King Sunday

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

The prophet Ezekiel declares a day when God will seek out his scattered and wounded people and judge between the “fat sheep and lean sheep” – the “fat sheep” being those who use their wealth and power to exploit the weak and poor.  The Lord will accomplish this by raising up a new shepherd leader, “David” (a descendant of David), to lead them.

The Gospel of Matthew collects a number of the parables of Jesus concerning the coming of God’s kingdom among us in chapter 25.  This parable describes the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy – the coming of the “Son of Man” who is established by God to judge (bring justice to) all the nations (not just Israel!), separating the sheep from the goats.  Those who showed compassion and mercy to the least and most vulnerable people are given mercy and inherit the life of God’s kingdom; those who ignored the least are called “cursed” and go away into punishment.

Speaking to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul rejoices with them in the great hope we have in Jesus Christ, who has been raised from death to be above all other powers, rulers and authorities, so that Christ ultimately is head over all things. Paul likely would have seen this as a fulfillment of the prophecy of a new Davidic leader spoken by Ezekiel

Comment: We realize that even the best human strategies of government result in divisions between people who “have” and have not.” For us as Christian people, we live and work with the governing authorities as best we can, but Christ is the ultimate hope not only for ourselves but for our broken world. We look to Christ as we pray, “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” and trust that as surely as Christ has been raised from death, so too he will come again to restore justice among all people.  But what challenges me today is the warning for the present moment: those who refuse the invitation to humbly seek that justice right now are in reality refusing to participate in the coming of God’s kingdom. Yes, I wait and hope for Christ’s ultimate coming in glory, but my waiting must be expressed with active compassion and justice for the least among us.