At the recent World Youth Day in Portugal, Pope Francis spoke to the young people who had gathered to make the Way of the Cross with him. He said to them, in part,

Do you sometimes weep? Are there things in your life that make you cry? ... Jesus is there with us, he weeps with us, because he accompanies us into those dark places that make us cry … He always accompanies us, always walks with us …

Today we are going to journey with Jesus along the path of his suffering … Let each of us think about our own sufferings, our own worries, our own weaknesses. Do not be afraid, just think about them. And think of the desire our souls have to shine once more … Jesus journeys to the Cross, dies on the Cross, to enable our souls to shine.

I recalled these words of Pope Francis as I read the opening words of our first reading on this Feast of Christ the King, in preparation for my thoughts for today. Recall them with me,

The Lord says this: I am going to look after my flock myself and keep all of it in view. As a shepherd keeps all his flock in view when he stands up in the middle of his scattered sheep, so shall I keep my sheep in view. I shall rescue them from wherever they have been scattered during the mist and darkness.

Both in the Pope’s words, and in those of the Prophet Ezekiel, it is the image of God’s tender closeness to us that stands out. In our sufferings and sadnesses; in our dark moments and scattered realities, God is with us, he accompanies us.

But there is more to it than simply accompaniment, just walking with, as comforting as that is, knowing we are not alone in our troubles. God also lifts us up, dries our eyes, tends our wounds, brings us light. God finds us. In him, we are found.

This feast of Christ the King came about as a commemoration of the very ancient moment when the Church recognised that the man Jesus and the divine Father are one. As we profess in our Symbol of Faith: consubstantial, one in being.

To know, then, that God is with us is to have confidence that Jesus carries us in the walk that he made for us, the journey of his life. From a stable to a cross, we cannot but place the heart of Jesus, and the paths he trod, with the poor. If being the poor one among the poor is at the centre of his life, then it is there that we will be able to centre our lives.

Jesus, our kingly God, feeds us, quenches our thirst, clothes us, welcomes us; he visits us in sickness, and sets us free. And when we do the same, we come to share in his life. In Christ our King, we indeed can shine.