A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
The peaceful light of the Easter season illuminates the full meaning of the Messiah’s appearing, and we come to know the meaning of Christ’s true kingship as He steps from the tomb and meets us in His resurrected glory. Fundamentally, the meaning is this: there is no glory, no power or rule or majesty, and indeed, no kingdom at all, but by the way of sacrifice and suffering that He offers on the Cross: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” All true authority, all true claims of dominion and power and honour, depend on the leader’s willingness to provide for the common good out of his own person, which is to say, by laying down his own life. No other offering can account for the life and well-being of the people, because in the final analysis, only the life of the king is able to define and disclose the goodness of the kingdom. If a king should withhold His glory, reserving it only for himself, then no one could know the real joy of life in that realm; His leadership is then but empty power for its own sake, which is the rule of tyranny, and the fear which tyranny breeds. A true kingdom, properly speaking, is the communion and fellowship of all those who live under the peaceful rule of a graceful monarchy, in which all share in the life and freedom of the king himself. The king provides the kingdom, by sharing His kingly life. The people honour the king, because they find in Him their life and goodness. So in an absolute sense, there is only one true king, Jesus Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords, and only one true Kingdom, which is the kingdom of heaven, where we find the fullness of joy that is the infinite outpouring, and therefore the absolute authority of, the goodness and glory of God. That is the joy we find in the triumphant Resurrection of Christ from the dead: the victory of His kingship, vindicated and made perfect in His suffering. On the Cross we see Him bearing out the cost of His authority, so that we might know His rule is always and only His love for us. “The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine… and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
This is the assurance of our peace and blessing in the kingdom of God, and perhaps you may have noticed how it is the Peace of His Kingdom which Jesus constantly proclaims in the days following Easter. Now that Christ is Risen from the dead, we are the liberated citizens of a new Peace, peace between God and man, and peace between man and his neighbour. And to that peace, St. Peter tells us, we are called to bear witness, by the way we live, according to the new law of our heavenly land: “if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” We must learn to bear out in our citizenship the Way of our King, the Good Shepherd, in our own living. We learn to lay down our lives, to be the load bearing sacrifice of ourselves, so that our neighbour should know what it means to be upheld in love: and by our heavenly way of life, therefore, the world is brought to the very verge of heaven, and may perchance hear the Good Shepherd calling them also into His kingdom. To Him be the Glory, Alleluia!