The Feast of Christ the King is a reminder of who we are and what we believe

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HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING 2018

Readings:  Dn. 7:13-14/Rev. 1:5-8

Psalm:  93:1-2,5

Gospel:  Jn. 18:33-37

 

The question is asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  It is a question that goes beyond the obvious?  It was not just a question of power, but of authority.  Two men who had led thousands stand alone in a room trying to determine who had control over whom.  Pilate asks the question; Jesus asks him another-“do you say this on your own or has others told you about me?”  If Pilate said yes, then Pilate was lower than Jesus.  If Pilate said no, then he ran the risk of punishing an innocent man.  So Pilate answers the only way he can to maintain the status quo:  “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own people sent you to me.”

As I was preparing for this weekend, I had realized that I had already talked on this question three years ago.  And yet it is just as relevant to us today as it was to Pilate back then.  To him and to us, the answer given is an answer of authority.   So, now we come to the next question to be asked:  “What have you done?”  Pilate wants Jesus to give testimony of what he has done on earth that had infuriated the chief priests.  The testimony Jesus gave was not what Pilate expected.  “My Kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”  For Pilate, this was a confirmation of the first question.

Like a good statesman, Pilate rephrases the question: “Then you are a king?” Jesus replies to Pilate as if he was still trying to reach him as he would anyone he encountered in his ministry.  “You say I am a king.  For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

What is your image of a king?  Is it an exalted ruler sitting on a throne with a crown on his head?  Or is it someone riding on a horse leading troops into battle.  Could it be someone who commands his subjects to impossible tasks and punishes them for not reaching the goal?  Or could it be someone who is looking for those who will help one another and ease the king’s burden to provide for so many?

We have so many images of Jesus why do we place such emphasis of this title of Jesus as King?  The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 in his encyclical Quas Primas.  It was written in the aftermath of World War I, where many of the traditional governing bodies in Europe were left susceptible to the dangers of secularism and nationalism.  Pius wanted to assure those who were used to a monarch as head of state that there is still a King that oversaw their protection from their enemies.  However, like the Gospel proclaimed today, this King was not an earthly one, but a spiritual one.              The threats of those who strive for power and take the place of God in the eyes of others was moving across Europe, and Pius saw this happen. So he instituted this feast as a way to deter this.  In the encyclical, Pius said that:

“Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that we promised to do as far as lay in our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord… It has long been a common custom to give to Christ the metaphorical title of ‘King,’ because of the high degree of perfection whereby he excels all creatures. So he is said to reign ‘in the hearts of men,’ both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all mankind.” [1]

 

While we honor Jesus today as Christ the King, we also must remember the means by which he came to earth. Jesus could have easily come into this world with a fanfare and a large procession proclaiming his arrival. Instead, he came to earth as a mortal. He could’ve been born to one of the noblest families in all of Israel. Instead, he was conceived to a virgin betrothed to a carpenter in the small town of Nazareth. His residence could have been in a fine home or palace that denoted his royalty. Instead, his birth came in a stable, being wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a humble manger.

Despite his lowly beginnings, his birth created much excitement and turmoil in all of Israel. Shepherds came down from their flocks to bid the child homage. Wiseman came from the East to worship the newborn King of the Jews and offer him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The King of Israel was so enraged of his birth that he gave an order to slaughter every child less than two years of age to protect his kingship. As he grew in wisdom and knowledge, great crowds came to him because of the ways he was able to bring the faithful closer to God.

We come to church each time in order to recognize Christ by his many titles:  Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Shepherd, Teacher, Friend and, yes, King.  When we make the sign of the cross, when we recite the creed, when we come to receive the Body and Blood and participate in the Sacraments, we acknowledge that Jesus is who we say he is today:  Christ the King.  The question Pilate raised was one of identity.  The question Jesus says back is one of belief.  It is now up to us to answer them both.

In closing, I would like to offer this novena prayer in honor of Christ the King:

O Lord our God, You alone are the Most Holy King and Ruler of all nations.
We pray to You, Lord, in the great expectation of receiving from You, O Divine King, mercy, peace, justice and all good things.
Protect, O Lord our King, our families and the land of our birth.
Guard us we pray Most Faithful One.
Protect us from our enemies and from Your Just Judgment
Forgive us, O Sovereign King, our sins against you.
Jesus, You are a King of Mercy.
We have deserved Your Just Judgment
Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us.
We trust in Your Great Mercy.
O most awe-inspiring King, we bow before You and pray;
May Your Reign, Your Kingdom, be recognized on earth.

Amen.

 

Our Help Is In The Name Of The Lord

-Who Made Heaven And Earth!

 

MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Pius XI. Quas Primas, 1,7.

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