I’m a pretty independent type of chap. In that regard, I’m pretty typically American. And politically, I’m Libertarian so I really don’t want any type of governmental control over my life. The less the merrier as far as I’m concerned.
Americans used to all be that way. That’s kind of what drove us to independence from England. I’m oversimplifying it but we don’t like being told what to do. I mean, don’t tell that to the cancel culture of today though. It’s like everybody has to believe the same thing or be labeled as intolerant, racist, homophobic or whatever other name the main stream of society wants to call you…but I digress.
Suffice it to say that we don’t like being told what to do. We don’t like our government beating us over the head. It’s not like our government has actually had our best interests in mind ever.
But what if the ruler were good?
What if the king was benevolent? And what if that king turned our expectations upside down? What if the king, rather than being worried about extending and increasing his own power, extended power to his subjects? What if serving the king meant freedom?
We never see, in our modern world, a ruler who gives to those whom he rules. They all seem to be out for themselves. But not so our benevolent King. Consider our texts today:
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28
In our Ezekiel text (one of my favorite prophets by the way), we are presented with an image of a shepherd. But this is not just any shepherd. This is a shepherd who takes tender care of his sheep. This is a shepherd who rescues his lost sheep. This is a shepherd who takes care of the weak. But this is also a shepherd who judges, who shepherds with justice those who are strong and fat of their own devices. This is a shepherd who turns things on their head. We would think, in our minds, that the sheep that most deserve the attention of the shepherd are the strong ones, the ones who can survive with minimal effort from the shepherd.
I mean, if we’re honest, that’s what we would do. We wouldn’t want to devote all our time to the weak and lost and broken. But this shepherd does.
He’s not like us.
In our Epistle text, St. Paul presents us with another image. This is a regal and royal image. This is an awesome and powerful image. Christ is the “firstfruits” who has “destroyed every sovereignty,” every power and every authority. St. Paul tells us that “he must reign.” This is a nonnegotiable ruler. His power is ultimate, even over death itself and all will be subjected to Him.
This has quite a different tone than our Ezekiel text. This is one of absolute power and might and strength and awe and glory. There is a finality to this ruler, an overarching completeness. St. Paul uses words like “all” and “every” and “last enemy” to show us that this ruler is absolute.
This universal imagery and rule is echoed in our Gospel text. Jesus, referring to Himself, says he will come “in his majesty” and “all nations shall be gathered together before him.” But, unlike our Ezekiel text and Epistle text, Jesus mixes his metaphors. He opens with this universal rule and authority and then says he will separate the sheep from the goats, hearkening us to both the other texts. And we are again told there will be judgment. Those on the right hand are “blessed of” the Father and will be given possession of “the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To those on the left, he says something starkly different: “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Jesus is not just saying that they will be cast into damnation but says that their damnation equates them with the devil and his angels. This is harsh stuff. And why? Why are they cast out and equated with demons?
Because there is an ethic to the Kingdom of God which will be brought to its fullness when the King returns. This is not a kingdom like the world where the powerful take what they want at the expense of others. This is a kingdom that gives rather than takes.
Imagine a King who dies so that his people may live!
So now we ask:
What would it look like to live under the rule of benevolent King?
“The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing.
He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:
He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake.
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly it is!
And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.” (Douay-Rheims)
Behold your King!
Behold Him who ruleth over you and provides all your needs.
Behold the One who has set you in a place of lush peace and abundance, refreshing you with the water of His love.
Behold He who converts our soul and leads us to true justice.
Behold He who is with you constantly, comforting us in all our afflictions.
Behold He who provides us the feast of His love, even in the presence of the enemies of sin and death.
Behold His mercy.
Behold Christ the Lord.
Behold your King!
And He shall reign forever and ever.
Thanks be to God!
We are living in perilous and strange times in America. I cannot remember a time like this during my lifetime. Granted, I’m not that old but I’m closing in on 50 and this is the weirdest I’ve seen things.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what is going on in this country. It feels like the collective intellect of our society has vanished. We have somehow lost the ability to think critically for ourselves. Our freedoms are being eroded daily and, as a society at large, we are not only laying down for this nonsense, but we seem to be embracing it.
Let me give you two examples.
There is no more freedom of speech. I really don’t care what you say to me; I see this every day and so do you. Oh, you may not want to admit it to yourself, but you no longer enjoy freedom of speech. Case in point, this infamous video posted over the last few days by Breitbart. It’s been shared all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all kinds of social media (for the record, I’m not a fan of Breitbart, nor am I republican or democrat).
And it was promptly removed by said social media platforms tout de suite.
Why is that? Have you asked yourself that?
Let me just quickly say this. My whole family took chloroquine as a prophylactic against malaria and various other diseases during the time we lived on the African continent during the mid-80s and early 90s. None of us had any problems with it. When administered properly, it seemed then and seems quite safe now. I know other missionary personnel who took it and have reported slightly different things and that’s okay. I’m just speaking for myself. It was a medication that was well tolerated by me and my family.
But I’m not here to talk about hydroxychloroquine. I mean, don’t get me wrong; if it will stop the spread of COVID-19, then I say give it out freely!
But what I’m concerned about in all this is this little thing called free speech. To live in a free society, people should be allowed to say whatever they damn well please. Let me say that again for all the people in the back and the fascists out there, both left and right.
To live in a free society, you should be free to say whatever you like.
That doesn’t mean that everyone must like it or agree with it or listen to it. In fact, one could say that if someone doesn’t disagree or dislike it, it’s probably not free speech. Our opinions on various topics may be very different. We may have people among us who even say mean and hateful things.
But again I say, to live in a free society, you should be free to say whatever you like.
It really doesn’t matter if it is offensive or foul or even true. It only matters, in a free society, that you are free to say whatever you like. If we are not free to say whatever we like, we are not free. So, to go back to your example; if you disagree with those doctors, okay. Great; feel free to ignore them. If you agree with those doctors, okay. Great; feel free to share their message.
The point is freedom of speech. Why censor someone’s opinion? Let them speak and let the people decide what they want to believe.
My second example is this whole mask wearing thing. Now I know that, as soon as I said that, some of you were triggered and now you’re gonna be all mad and rage at me. This only proves my first point. You are free to keep reading or you are free to stop reading. You are free to agree with me or you are free to disagree with me.
I really don’t care one way or the other.
Okay, back to the mask issue. Americans have been told various things regarding the efficacy of masks. Depending on whom it is that you listen to will largely determine where you fall on this issue. I really don’t care.
Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. You do you.
Here’s my point. You should be free; we should be free to make our own decisions. Here’s a simple proposal for all the government officials that have overstepped the boundaries. Why don’t you just present all sides, ALL sides, of the arguments for and against mask wearing? Once you’ve done that, I’d love for you to do something radical.
Let the people decide for themselves.
We’re really not stupid, ya know. Well, some of us are but I digress…
We desire freedom and well we should.
We should be free to speak and be heard and ignored if that is what is chosen.
We should be free to decide for ourselves issues that involve our own health.
We don’t need some dude in a suit in Washington or, in my case, in Indianapolis, to tell us how to best care for our health. We certainly don’t need some kid who runs a social media platform telling us what types of media we can and cannot consume.
We should be free.
It’s called the Constitution. Google it. Or don’t.
You are free to choose.
Or at least, you should be.