Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our King, Our Shepherd

The liturgical year closes with the Solemnity of Christ the King. The readings use images of Christ the Good Shepherd to describe his reign. What kind of a king would compare himself with a shepherd? Only one whose power is so great that he has no fear of losing it and can thus humble himself greatly. In Ezekiel God describes how he tends his sheep: "I will rescue...I will pasture...I will heal, I will look after and tend my sheep." Compare that with the religious leaders of Ezekiels' time who "pastured themselves" and not their sheep.

As God shepherds us, so he asks us to do for others. In the Gospel parable, Christ the King comes at the end of time to judge. He separates the goats from the rams or those who "...gave me food, gave me drink, welcomed me, clothed me, visited me." For whatever you do for the least, you do for the Shepherd. May Christ our King teach us such compassion.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Burning Lamps

"The Wise Virgins" by James Tissot.
Recently I read the Gospel parable of the ten virgins awaiting the Bridegroom with burning lamps. Something struck me: the five wise virgins also fell asleep. Whenever I hear this parable I always hope that I shall be one of the wise virgins who had enough oil to keep their lamps burning.  But what does that mean? I know what it doesn't mean—perfection.

We seem to think the saints were perfect, but they were far from it! They too, like the five wise virgins, fell asleep at times.  This All Saints Day is a day to realize that there are more saints than those canonized by Mother Church. They are the ones who had enough oil—love of God and neighbor—to keep their lamp burning until the Bridegroom came at their death. They are friends, family members, and even people who we could never get along with!

We are all imperfect and that is alright. God alone is perfect. He does not desire that from us but only fidelity and a constant striving to be ever more faithful to Him in our vocation (whatever it may be) as a Christian.  Happy All Saints Day! May we be counted among them one day.