The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Reading 12 SM 5:1-3
Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
- Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Reading 2COL 1:12-20
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Homily— November 19 & 20, 2016
Welcome to the end of the Church Year and the celebration of the Feast of Christ the King. This would be a good week to take some time to recognize your own growth in discipleship and your personal relationship with Jesus our King during this past year. To whom and to what have you entrusted your souls and why. Judge your own growth as a disciple of Jesus and how ready are you to enter Paradise with Jesus.
As a feast of the universal church, Christ the King is less than a century old. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in what can only really be described as a political move. It was a time when the pope was called “the prisoner of the Vatican;” he was not free to travel since there was no political agreement with the Italian government after the unification of Italy and the seizure of the Papal States.
It was also a time of growing nationalism and secularism in Europe, and the pope was insisting that the church had a right to freedom and immunity from the state, that leaders of nations must give respect to Christ, and so that the faithful must let Christ reign in their lives.
I find it amazing how God redeemed us by sending us his Son, Jesus, under the cover of a human who grew in the womb of his Mother, Mary, for nine months. He is born in a stable and some people become aware of what has happened. The Magi travel from afar and Joseph has to take Mary and the baby Jesus to Egypt as the evil one sought to have Him killed.
Little is known about the early life of Jesus. Now we look at Him on the crucifix. In Jesus’ last moments on earth, Luke allowed two criminals to focus the question of the ultimate meaning of his life. The first agreed with the forces that had seemingly brought Jesus to this moment. “Are you not the Christ?” If you are, then work the miracle! Dazzle and compel them to believe in you!
The other criminal became the gospel’s final and perhaps most unanticipated model disciple. Like the humble tax collector of Jesus’ parable on prayer, his focus was on God and the blameless man who shared his fate. Unlike anyone else in the scene, he perceived God’s presence in the innocent victim by his side. This criminal alone grasped the mystery that the King of the Universe was powerful enough to lay down his life, trusting only in God. Understanding this he could turn to Jesus and pray, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He was perhaps one of three or four persons present at that moment who desired a place in Jesus’ kingdom and thus he was a comfort to Jesus even as Jesus promised him salvation.
Our citizenship as Christians is a shared citizenship in the kingdom of God, what is called in Colossians the “kingdom of his beloved Son,” and here there can be no war. Perhaps this is politically naïve, but it is theologically true. Among us in the city of man, there are disagreements, arguments and worse, but if we believe that these threaten to rend the fabric of God’s family, we must remember that God “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.”
Envision the King whom you worship with all your brothers and sisters. Do you consider your common citizenship with those in the church with whom you disagree? How can you create a lived sense of kinship even when you are at odds with others? How can you focus on the unity we share in the kingdom of the beloved Son?
Gaze in prayerful wonder at the crucifix at the front of church. We hear about a different kind of kingdom with a different kind of king. We look upon the splendor of the crucified Lord, who is “the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:5) He appears to be powerless but he will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. Thank you Lord for the hope that you give us. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.