SHEPHERD, SERVANT & KING Solemnity of Christ the King (Year C) | 20th November 2016
SHEPHERD, SERVANT, KING
Another typhoon has visited us recently. Even now, as I talk, so many still have to pick up the scattered pieces of their lives, both literally and figuratively, to get up and face life anew, despite so much loss.
I have experienced helping the very helpless after devastating storms a number of times in my life. I remember the feeling of being like those I was trying to help - helpless and dazed in apparent hopelessness.
It felt so humbling ... being literally so helpless - in the face of so many needs, all urgent and all important. The magnitude of the destruction, in many cases, was unfathomable. Money doesn't grow on trees, and no one plucks it out of nowhere just when one needs it, no matter how urgent, no matter how important, no matter how noble.
But at the same time, it felt so encouraging. The little that was available for everyone to do was precisely what the suffering millions needed. The power that was not anyone's innate resource was the very same power that God needed to do His mighty works. Aid came in trickles ... a little bag here; a little bag there. A few hundred pesos now; a few hundred pesos later. Not before long, I had enough to send me to the groceries and shop for needed ready to eat foodstuffs that I felt I needed to send. Fast. For there was no waiting, no dilly-dallying.
So to the mall I went. After buying solar lamps and sending someone to buy a Ham radio transceiver and generator sets from people's initial donations, I proceeded to the supermarket. There I saw the power of lowliness, simplicity, and weakness, the power of one becoming the power that God eventually needs.
I espied a group of old ladies, hardly able to push their carts. They were shopping for loads and loads of crackers and noodles. Behind them and before us were young couples with their toddlers in tow, stocking up crackers and noodles and other easy to prepare foodstuffs. I made for the beeline of people asking for boxes and boxes of the same stuff. And then it dawned on me. I was going to send them to the typhoon victims. They, too, apparently, were going to do the same.
Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King. There is ironically nothing kingly (as the world understood it) that oozes out of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The image connotes simplicity and weakness. What power does a lowly shepherd has? What force can a young smelly shepherd like David muster to frighten giant marauders and warriors like Goliath? What dent can little old ladies who could not even carry what they buy make to a gargantuan tragedy that Haiyan (Yolanda) was for millions of Filipinos that happened to be in its murderous path?
But Kingship as the Lord would have it, was not meant to be associated with power. Kingship as he showed and lived it is far from what the world prizes and values and understands. Kingship of the Lord has to do with shepherding and serving. It has to do with being lowly and low-keyed; with simply serving rather than serving self and aggrandizing and ingratiating oneself.
This King is one who established his kingship with the passport of suffering and pain. He hung on the cross, reviled, ridiculed, dissed in every way, and despised by everyone. "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."
This King is the one we honor today. He is no ruler, if what you mean is commander of armies and warrior and power wielder. He suffers in silence. He serves in his suffering and suffers in his ultimate service - the offering of his own life so that we all might live.
Our people are once again in pain. I see so much helplessness. Many lost everything including loved ones. Life will never be the same again for millions of us. And yet, those very same people in pain are the very first ones to call on the Lord that the world considers a shame. Despite all the pain, they behave like there is everything to gain, if only they held on to their faith.
Christ, the King, passed through the same path. Simplicity. Suffering. Death. Unjust treatment from everyone. He experienced no typhoon, but he is just as battered and bruised by undeserved suffering. He is King. And He is such because He is the first to show that glory, fullness of life, salvation, and God's final victory are nothing but the flip side of what the world rejects, refuses, ignores, and intends to deny - the mystery of human suffering.
To a people so hardy and strong, steadfast and sturdy in faith, I say: "Hold on." The King has an important message in his simplicity, suffering, pain, and ignominious death ..."Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Hail King! King of our hearts, King of the universe, strengthen us in faith, hope and love!