The modern image of a king resonates well with the millenial slang words we use today like lodi or werpa. Lodi is idol spelled or read backwards. Werpa is a play on the word “power” (spelled in the tagalog “pawer” and pronounced in reverse). Yes, a king is the lodi of his followers. And a king wields werpafrom where he sits with authority. The gospel today (Mt 25) shows us Christ the King exercising his role as judge of the actions of his people. For good deeds, he promises rewards; for evil ones, he issues condemnations.

However it might mislead people to think that Christ is king because of his popularity, the idol-quality his followers attribute to him. Or we might be tempted to perceive of Christ as king because of his power to control, to reward and punish, and to impose his will. Certainly these are attributes of earthly kings that Jesus never dreamed for himself.

What is Jesus like as king? The first reading (Ezek 34) provides an answer. Jesus is king in the manner of the shepherd. As king, Jesus tends the sheep. He rescues them from danger. He leads them to pasture. He seeks them out. He heals the sick ones and trains the strong ones to obey. This is a king who does not bask in the scent of aromatic perfumes nor dwells comfortably in a palace. Jesus’ kingship is not experienced in the seat of power but in the company of the sheepfold. Our king is a shepherd who smells like the sheep. Our king is a shepherd who stoop down to mingle with the sheep.

How many people who enjoy being the lodi of the crowd, or who are invested with werpaover others act as true shepherds of their families, their offices, their communities, their organizations? Great are the temptations to be considered above and apart from the simple masses and to play with the lives and the future of others.

Let us pray to the Lord to teach us how to become shepherds when we are given the task to be kings.