Homily for Nov 21



Feast of Christ the King C 2010


It is said that the images we derive of God as small children carry through for the rest of our lives.  As a child, I would go out to my great aunt and uncle’s farm every Sunday with my grandparents.  We would have a delicious meal, the adults would speak afterwards, and I would often go and play.  One day I discovered an old Catholic missal and there were many pictures inside that I did not understand.  There was a picture of a bleeding lamb, a picture of the Trinity, a picture of Jesus carrying the cross, a picture of Jesus with his disciples.  One picture intrigued me above the others and it was a picture of Jesus seated on a throne while wearing a crown.  I now know it was a picture of today’s feast but my own understanding of the feast changed over the years. 


As a child, I thought how neat it would to be a king like Jesus.  After all, he is sitting on his throne and looking down at all the earth.  Later in life, I realized his kingship was not as pretty as portrayed in the picture.  The kingship of Jesus was nothing glorious.  He did not live in a castle, wear fine robes, or eat delicious foods.  He was a king in service of the Father and the poor, lonely, and sick.  Whereas other kings sought out their own interests, Jesus was God for us by humbling himself and becoming subject to death itself.


Imagine what the criminal from today’s Gospel might say to us about Christ the King.

I never listened to Jesus proclaim the Gospel or saw him heal or forgive sins.  I was a robber assailing others while Jesus built up his kingdom.  Of course, I heard of Jesus; everyone did, but I never thought his message had anything for me.  It is not that I was opposed to it; I just did not recognize its importance for me.  Eventually, I was apprehended; being a long-time thief, the prosecutors sought to execute me.  I was sentenced to death. 


I was nailed on a cross at Golgotha, and I saw Jesus and another man nailed too.  The inscription over Jesus’ cross read King of the Jews.  Now Jesus had done nothing criminal.  Unlike other men, I saw something authentic about him.  He was not preaching himself but preaching God being active in the world.  I grew angry with the crowd reviling Jesus.  These are pretentious people and  even now Jesus is at peace in spite of the pain.  As I looked at the inscription I thought  about who Jesus was.  If he worked all of these miracles, surely he could do something about his current situation.  Why not?  As I thought of it, I recognized he had absolute trust in his Father.  If he has this much trust, surely the Father will hear his plea.  A father must listen to his beloved son. 


At this time the other criminal started reviling him.  I do not see Jesus claiming any authority; I see Jesus in prayer with his Father.  I cry out recognizing Jesus, please remember me.  I know who you are.  Remember me when you come into your kingdom.  Jesus looks at me and promises me that I will be with him.  I am at peace because his Father is my Father too.  Jesus is a king but no one else recognizes it.  Behind all the bruises, the crown of thorns, the nails, the dirt, and the blood is the King of Kings welcoming all those who accept him.


Christ’s throne was the cross.  His crown was made of thorns.  Still to this day people do not recognize Christ is King.  How can Christ be king of my life in the midst of its brokenness and sins?  How can Christ be King when evil seems to defeat good?  During the life of Christ, he identified himself with the poor, and the suffering.  How on earth can the King of Kings be recognized in the smelly, hungry, schizophrenic street person we encounter while shopping for Christmas?  And yet, if you take my example, I was able to recognize Christ was King on an instrument of death.  So why do we struggle to recognize Christ as King elsewhere?

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