Sunday, November 20, 2016

Feast of Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year, and one week away from the season of Advent. A good day to remind ourselves that all of our celebrations are summed up in one statement: “Jesus is our King.” Jesus is the one we serve. 

In 1925, Pope Pius XI, certainly guided by the Holy Spirit, instituted “Christ the King” as a feast day. During this time, the world was experiencing a growing secularism - and a misguided sense of nationalism. This was the year that Adolph Hitler published his biography of hatred, “Mien Kampf” and Benito Mussolini became dictator of Italy.  By instituting this feast day, Pius emphasized the social - and political - implication of Christ’s kingship. Who is our King? Not the dictator, not the state, not ideology, not politics, the message was clear – only “Christ is our King”! 

I expect that all of us here today proclaim this reality. For why else would we be here? So, if we say,” Christ is our King” – do we understand the many implications that go along with that statement? To accept Christ as our King, we first must recognize - who he is, what he has done, what he is doing. 
We heard in our first reading from Samuel - how the Lord said to King David, “you shall shepherd my people Israel.” As King David was a shepherd to HIS people, tending, feeding and guarding – our King is the Son of God, the Good shepherd, the new David, who provides for his children with an even more abundant love – a love that, is immense, free, and infinite and saving.

As King David ruled from an earthly throne, our King’s throne is the cross. In the Gospel, we see Jesus is nailed to his wooden throne – and placed above his head, in a vein of grim sardonic, the words, ‘King of the Jews”.  At the moment of his pain and humiliation, of his complete self-emptying, Jesus assumed his real throne - sitting at the right hand side of his Father.  Jesus broke the chains of our captivity – the light of his grace has shone the way of freedom - secured in the shedding of His blood – he abandoned all that the world considers important.
It was not easy for Jesus to begin establishing his kingdom - with his values in competition to those of the world; it cost him his life. It is not easy today - for the Church now to establish the kingdom of Jesus, for we are living in a society that grows more secular and pagan every day.  But for those who empty themselves, who truly open themselves to Jesus, to be LIKE HIM, conforming to His image - the reward is a share in Jesus’ kingdom, “Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Let us turn our hearts from worldly passions to godly passions. Do we love our neighbors? What are we doing to protect, and promote all life, the abused, the neglected, the disabled, and the elderly? Are we being especially sensitive to the life of the unborn? Do we spread the love of Jesus by our words and actions - in our homes, our places of work - before our friends and our family members? This is what Jesus, our teacher, did. To the extent that we are able to ask - and seek - genuine answers to these questions, it is to that extent that we acknowledge “Christ as the King.” This is what makes us Christians.

How do we buy into this “philosophy of Jesus?” The answer is simple. PRAY! Ask God to open up our hearts and minds. God answers our prayers – He never abandons us. We will gradually become free to trust the power that is expressed in unconditional loving, in spite of all the evil in our world.  We do not need to be endowed with special gifts in order to be a loving presence in our world. Yet we can be certain that such loving has the potential to transform the universe. What is more - the readier and more willing we are to do this, the more like Christ we will become - and our confession of Christ as Lord and Savior, of King and Redeemer, will become increasingly clear and persuasive in the world.
To Jesus Christ our Sovereign King
who is the world's salvation,
All praise and homage do we bring
and thanks and adoration

Your reign extend O King benign,
to every land and nation;
For in your kingdom Lord divine
Alone do we find salvation

To you and to your Church, great King
We pledge our heart's oblation;
Until before your throne we sing
In endless jubilation

Christ Jesus, Victor!
Christ Jesus, Ruler!
Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer

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