It is Christ the King Sunday, and the end of our church year. A new year begins next Sunday with Advent. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (O Prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ):
Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and the goats:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
The text of today’s cantata is available here, and contains these words:
O Prince of peace, Lord Jesus Christ,
true human and true God,
you are a strong helper in need
in life and in death.
in your name
do we cry to your Father.
Alas, the agony is unspeakable
as is the threat of the enraged Judge!
Scarcely, since we still suffer this terror
that you, O Jesus, yourself have undergone,
can we cry to God in your name.
O Jesus, that you are still
called a Prince of peace!
You wished to send us your word out of love.
Will your heart turn away from us now,
which otherwise revealed such great assistance?
. . . .
Illumine our minds and hearts as well
through the spirit of your grace,
so that we do not spread mockery about,
that would be harmful to our souls.
O Jesus Christ,
it is you alone
that can make this right.
Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.