Today we celebrate the culmination of time, and the final manifestation of the glory of Jesus Christ. Throughout our lives we catch glimpses of how God is guiding the course of the world, how He intervenes sometimes in very subtle ways. At the end of time, we will see clearly how intimately involved Jesus was in every movement of every human heart. Jesus is the King of hearts, the shepherd of souls, the new head of humanity – raising us who had fallen in Adam. He is the just judge who will decide if we will rise to share in His glory – fully divinized by His grace – or rise only to plunge deeper into death in hell. He is the merciful judge who draws even closer when we stray. As our head, he proceeds us into heaven – He is a shepherd whose body is composed of sheep. When one is lost or stolen, it is a wound in His flesh that he seeks to heal and recover.
Jesus, with all His authority and power as King of the Universe, does not live a separate life from us. We are His sheep, we are His Body. When we suffer, it is His suffering. When we sin through weakness, it is a wound He desperately seeks to heal. So long as we are in this world, so long as we are in this life, our obedience to Christ and to His grace heals us and unites us to the Body of our Savior. When we are called to receive the just judgment before our King, He looks upon His own flesh and blood. In our obedience of faith and humility – in our gentleness and selfless generosity to others – we are bound to our King. If our King sees that we’ve been faithless, that we’ve been selfish, proud, and unforgiving, He reveals to us that we are not in fact part of His body, we are actually cancerous and will be removed.
Hope and the willingness to continually allow God’s grace and mercy to transform us will prevent the cancer of sin to overwhelm our souls and transform us completely. Let us remember that Jesus Himself is our shepherd, that He is the only truly good shepherd, and that He looks upon us as His own flesh. He will save us by His powerful mercy if we allow Him to rule our hearts.
Rain and fog, the errors of this world; a great darkness arising from human lusts, a thick fog covering the earth. And it is difficult for the sheep not to go astray in this fog. But the shepherd does not desert them. He seeks them, his piercing gaze penetrates the fog, the thick darkness of the clouds does not prevent him.1
The Lord did not say, “I will provide other good shepherds to do these things,” but “I myself,” he said, “will do them. I will commit my sheep to nobody else.” You are all right, brothers; you are all right, you sheep. It is we bishops, it seems, who have got to worry, there being apparently not a single good shepherd.2
GREGORY THE GREAT:
We must all of us strive zealously to make known to the church both the dreadfulness of the coming judgment and the kingdom of heaven’s delight. Those who are not in a position to address a large assembly should instruct individuals, offering instruction in personal talks; they should try to serve those around them through simple encouragement.… You who are pastors, consider that you are pasturing God’s flock. We often see a block of salt put out for animals to lick for their well-being. Priests among their people should be like blocks of salt. They should counsel everyone in their flocks in such a way that all those with whom they come in contact may be seasoned with eternal life as if they had been sprinkled with salt. We who preach are not the salt of the earth unless we season the hearts of those who listen to us. We are really preaching to others if we ourselves do what we say, if we are pierced with God’s love, if, since we cannot avoid sin, our tears wash away the stains on our life that come with each new day. We truly feel remorse when we take to heart the lives of our forebears in the faith so that we are diminished in our own eyes. Then do we truly feel remorse, when we attentively examine God’s teachings and adopt for our own use what those we revere themselves used for theirs. And while we are moved to remorse on our own account, let us also take responsibility for the lives of those entrusted to our care. Our own bitter compunction should not divert us from concern for our neighbor. What good to love and strive to do good for our neighbor and abandon ourselves? We must realize that our passion for justice in the face of another’s evil must never cause us to lose the virtue of gentleness. Priests must not be quick-tempered or rash; they must instead be temperate and thoughtful. We must support those we challenge and challenge those we support. If we neglect this, our work will lack either courage or gentleness. What shall we call the human soul but the food of the Lord? It is created to become nothing less than Christ’s body and to bring about growth in the eternal church. We priests are to season this food. Cease to pray, cease to teach, and the salt loses its taste.3
BASIL THE GREAT:
If you are a shepherd, take care that none of your pastoral duties is neglected. And what are these duties? To bring back that which is lost, to bind up that which was broken, to heal that which is diseased.4
I am judging. What a relief, what reassurance! [The Lord] is judging; the good can be reassured. No opponent can corrupt their judge, no counselor twist him round their little finger or witness play fast and loose with him. But just as the good can be reassured, so to the same extent the bad should be afraid. He is not the sort of judge things can be kept hidden from. Do you imagine, after all, that God as judge is going to examine witnesses, to learn from them who you may be? How can he possibly be mistaken about who you may be, seeing that he knew what you were going to be?5
If the head has risen, then the rest of the body will follow in due course.6
If Adam is a type of Christ then Adam’s sleep is a symbol of the death of Christ, and by the wound in the side of Christ was typified the church, the true mother of all the living.7
In this house God’s people shall everlastingly dwell with their God and in their God, and God with his people and in his people, God filling his people, his people filled with God, so that “God may be all in all”—the very same God being their prize in peace who was their strength in battle.8
God will be all things in each person in such a way that everything which the reasoning mind can feel or understand or think will be all God. When purified from all the dregs of its vices and utterly cleared from every cloud of wickedness, the mind will no longer be conscious of anything besides or other than God. That mind will think of God and see God and hold God. God will be the mode and measure of its every movement. In this way God will be all in all.9
In heaven we shall not experience need, and on that account we shall be happy. We shall be filled, but it will be with God. He will be for us all those things which we here look upon as being of great value.10
INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW:
When judgment is passed, the punishment of shame will follow. He will justly place the righteous at his right hand, because they never knew the left side; he will justly place the wicked at the left, because they never wanted to know the right side.11
- SERMON 46.23. Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 109). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 46.26. Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES 17. Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY ON THE WORDS “GIVE HEED TO THYSELF.” Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- SERMON 47.7. Stevenson, K., & Gluerup, M. (Eds.). (2008). Ezekiel, Daniel (p. 112). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS 15. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 157). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON THE SOUL 43.10. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 158). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- City of God 17.12. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 162). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON FIRST PRINCIPLES 3.6.3. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 164). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- EASTER SERMON 255.8. Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 165). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- HOMILY 54. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2002). Matthew 14-28 (p. 232). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.