O Rex Gentium: The Shepherd King

Could these two roles- shepherd and king- ever go together outside the Christian world? In the Old Testament, David, the ultimate type of Christ, is a shepherd-become-king. In Ezekiel 34, the Lord declares himself the True Shepherd, and says: “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak.... I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them” (Ezekiel 34:11-12; 16, 23, 24). So the Lord will not only be God and Shepherd, but at the same time “David” and a prince. Here is Jesus, True God and True man, Son of David, King of the Nations.

This reading from Ezekiel also reminds me of when the Gospel tells us that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for the crowds because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:36; Mk. 6:34). Jesus the Good Shepherd brings in all of the sheep just as Jesus the King brings in all of the nations to salvation. As the Gospels tell of his public ministry, we hear of the many miracles he works for the Gentiles because of their great faith (cf. Mt. 15:28; Lk. 7:9; Mt. 8:10). Although not part of the chosen race of Israel, Jesus goes so far as to praise them for their faith and grant them what they ask, even pointing out the lack of faith he finds in the Israelites.

As the King of the Nations, Jesus’ mighty deeds are clearly seen – I like to think particularly the words of the Book of Revelation as we pray in the Liturgy:

“All nations shall come and worship before you O Lord…
Mighty and wonderful are your works, Lord God almighty.
Righteous and true are your ways, O King of the Nations.
Who would dare refuse you honor, or the glory due your name O Lord?
Since you alone are holy, all nations shall come and worship in your presence.
Your mighty deeds are clearly seen (Rev. 15:3-4).

Even to our day, His mighty deeds persist, the greatest of which is His Perpetual Presence in the Eucharist, where He makes us kings with him, able to rule and serve in justice and mercy, where He feeds us as a shepherd His flock. He is acting, working miracles for those who will believe. He desires all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), to come and worship in His presence (Ps. 86:9; Is. 66:23; Rev. 15:4). He is the Way of Salvation, the Way to the Father (cf. Jn. 14:6). Through Him we worship the Father, and we also worship Him, consubstantial with the Father. We beg you, Jesus, O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

~ Written by Sister M. Regina

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