The Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
November 22, 2015
R. (1a) The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.
Reading 2 Rv 1:5-8
Alleluia Mk 11:9, 10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Jn 18:33b-37
Homily— November 21 & 22, 2015
This Feast of Christ the King marks the end of the church year. Next week we begin the season of Advent. Let us examine what it means to us to have a king and to actually submit ourselves to a ruler in humility.
Imagine Jesus coming like a Son of man on the clouds of heaven with all peoples, nations, and languages serving him like the vision in the Prophet Daniel. Then reflect on the reading from the Book of Revelation that also sees Jesus Christ coming amid the clouds. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom. . .” Don’t you want to follow him and to serve him with your life? I do.
Today, we are not the crowds wanting a king. Today we are Pilate. Pilate knew he had someone special standing before him. Pilate may not have understood what it meant that Jesus might be the Messiah of Jewish legend, but Pilate understood authority. In Jesus he recognized real authority. But Pilate succumbed to the pressure of Jewish authorities. Because he knew that he could be reported to the Emperor for not handling this supposed threat to Caesar’s authority. Pilate recognized in Jesus a threat to his own authority. This is why Pilate agreed to let the Jewish leadership kill “their king.”
Fr. Robert Beck in his commentary for today points out that Pilate “gets back at the council (Jewish authorities). Notice the amount of attention given to the title on the cross: ‘King of the Jews’ (19:19-22). The council doesn’t want it because they do not like the idea of having Jesus named as their king. Pilate knows that, but takes the position that they can’t have it both ways. Either Jesus is a legitimate candidate for claiming kingship, and therefore must be dealt with, or he is not, and must be released. So Pilate turns the tables back on the council for putting him on the spot.”
Like Pilate we recognize in Jesus real authority. We know Jesus represents the Truth. But, when we start to know Him, we also begin to understand our sinfulness, and God’s expectations of us. Like Pilate we become threatened. We are sinful, and Jesus is able to save us, but we see that giving our life over to Him is a threat to our freedom. We are still affected by original sin. We still want what we want and not what God wants for us. Every time we sin, we reject the rule of Christ the King in our lives.
Realistically, we all live in both the world of Pilate and that of Jesus. We have one foot in the world of fighting, falsehood, and obstinacy and the other foot in the world of life, truth, and openness. We spend all our lives getting both feet into one world or the other. Which world do we choose?
Pope Benedict XVI stated that “Jesus of Nazareth. . . is so intrinsically king that the title ‘King’ has actually become his name. By calling ourselves Christians, we label ourselves as followers of the king. . . “
Pope Francis writes that “Today’s liturgy invites us to fix our gaze on Christ, the King of the Universe. . .
Jesus brought about his Kingdom. . . through his closeness and tenderness towards us. He is the Shepherd. . .
The Father, little by little, subjects all to the Son and, at the same time, the Son subjects all to the Father, including even himself in the end. Jesus is not a King according to earthly ways: for him, to reign is not to command, but to obey the Father, to give himself over to the Father, so that his plan of love and salvation may be brought to fulfillment.”
Some people see God as all merciful so there is no need to repent. Some people see God as all just so the sinner cannot be saved. Neither of those views is correct. God respects our freedom and the choices we have made. If we want to live as disciples of Christ the King, even though at times we fail, we are disciples. If we choose to reject Christ as our King, like a suicide bomber, we have the freedom to do so but I pray that none of us makes such a mortal choice. When Christ is our King then we bring light, truth, justice, love and peace to the world.
To listen to the homily click here