One-page summary of Christ the King Sunday (Nov 25) Homily
Introduction This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. Instituting this Feast of Christ, the King in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ). This means that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Savior and King and allow him to rule our lives. Why is Christ is our King. 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and hence wields a supreme power over all things; “All things were created by Him“; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, “holding in all things the primacy”; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion.
Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King. B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 13:2-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus. b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.” c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, who comes in the name of the Lord.” d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question:(Jn 18:33): “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into this world for this one purpose, to bear witness to the Truth.” e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews.” f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt. 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.
Life Messages: 1) We need to accept Christ the King as our Lord, King and Savior and surrender our lives to him. We surrender our lives to Jesus every day when we give priority to his teaching in our daily choices, especially in moral decisions. We should not exclude Christ our King from any area of our personal or family lives. In other words, Christ must be in full charge of our lives, and we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will. 2) We need to be serving disciples of a serving King. Jesus declared that he came not to be served but to serve and showed us the spirit of service by washing of the feet of his disciples. We become Jesus’ followers when we recognize his presence in everyone, especially the poor, the sick, the outcast and the marginalized in the society and render humble and loving service to Jesus in each of them. 3) We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love. Jesus came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus loved, unconditionally, sacrificially and with agape love.
CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY(Nov 25) (Dn 7:13-14; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37)
Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Christ has conquered, Christ now rules: In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. It about four and half thousand years old and it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. But it was bought to Rome by the dreadful Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of Circus of Nero, equally dreadful, that was on the Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw. On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross however, the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme. The other inscription, “The Lion of Judah has conquered”. So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane)
#2: “Long live Christ the King!” In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) They called themselves “Cristeros.” The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up “Padre Pro” or “Saint Miguel Pro” on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom).
#3: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, among others. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England. What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn and make himself head of the Church of England, More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the Divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, Thomas More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the Faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of his heart and home; he believed one must also confess Christ in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci).
# 4: On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the second century bishop of Smyrna, was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King, Jesus Christ, who saved me?” The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.” But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly. Do what you wish.”
# 5: A king with a big difference: Charles Colson, former legal counsel to Richard Nixon and later founder of the Christian Prison Fellowship, says it like this: “All the kings and queens I have known in history sent their people out to die for them. I only know one King Who decided to die for his people.”
Introduction: In the Church’s calendar, Christ the King is the parallel of the Super Bowl trophy or the Final Four in college basketball or the last game of the World Series. The Church’s liturgical year concludes with this feast of Christ the King, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to celebrate the Jubilee Year and the 16th centenary of the Council of Nicaea. Instituting this feast, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (“The peace of Christ in the reign of Christ”). This feast was established and proclaimed by the Pope to reassert the sovereignty of Christ and the Church over all forms of government and to remind Christians of the fidelity and loyalty they owed to Christ, who by his Incarnation and sacrificial death on the cross had made them both adopted children of God and future citizens and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King. Christ is our spiritual King and Ruler who rules by truth and love. We declare our loyalty to him by the quality of our Christian commitment, expressed in our serving of others with sacrificial and forgiving love, and by our solidarity with the poor. Although emperors and kings with real ruling power exist today only in history books, we nevertheless honor Christ as the King of the Universe and the King of our hearts by allowing him to take control of our lives. In thousands of human hearts all over the world, Jesus still reigns as King. The Cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount, his rule of law. His citizens need obey only one major law: “Love God with all your being, and love others as I have loved you.” His love is selfless, compassionate, forgiving, and unconditional. He is a King with a saving and liberating mission: freeing us from all types of bondage, enabling us to live peacefully and happily on earth, and promising us an inheritance in the eternal life of heaven. Here is the summary of why Christ is our King. 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and hence wields a supreme power over all things; “All things were created by Him”; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, “holding in all things the primacy”; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion.
Scripture readings summarized: This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. The first reading, taken from the book of Daniel, tells of the mysterious Son of Man (with whom Jesus would later identify himself), coming on the clouds, glorified by God, and given dominion that will last forever. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 93), proclaims, “The Lord is King,” celebrating the God of Israel as the King over all creation. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, the risen Christ comes amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts before Pilate that he is a king and clarifies that that his kingdom “does not belong to this world.” It describes the qualities of Christ’s kingdom. It is: 1) supreme, extending not only to all people but also to their princes and kings; 2) universal, extending to all nations and to all places; 3) eternal, for “The Lord shall sit a King forever”; 4) spiritual, Christ’s “kingdom is not of this world”. Christ rules as King by serving others rather than by dominating them; his authority is rooted in truth, not in physical force, and his Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes.
First reading: Daniel 7:13-14, explained: The apocalyptic Book of Daniel came to prominence during a bitter persecution of the Jews in the second century BC, where it bolstered the Faith of the beleaguered chosen people of God. The book rises from the sixth century BC, during the Captivity of the Jews in Babylon (the Exile). Today’s selection from Daniel expresses well the Jewish understanding of the Kingship of God and that of the Promised Messiah. It describes the mysterious “Son of Man” (with whom Jesus would later identify himself), as coming on the clouds, glorified by God and given the dominion that will last forever. In his vision, Daniel saw God seated on a Throne, with millions of people serving Him. Into His presence there came a human figure, “one like a Son of Man,” to whom were given (v.14) “dominion and glory and kingship, that all should serve him… his kingship is one which shall never be destroyed.” He would be the King of kings and the Lord of glory and His Kingdom would last forever. The New Testament proves that Jesus is this long-awaited King of the Jews.
Second reading: Revelation 1:5-8, explained: The New Testament Book of Revelation has the same apocalyptic character as the Book of Daniel, although that element is not very evident in today’s short selection. Its readers were being persecuted, and the author wanted to bolster their Faith. To the description of Jesus given here, we can apply what was said above about the Son of Man and His commission from the Ancient One. Today’s reading from the Book of Revelation also explains how the risen Christ will come amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things. In its apocalyptic style, the Book of Revelation describes how Jesus has become our King by freeing us from our sins by His Blood (and so from the ruler of darkness), and by blessing all of us to be priests for his God and Father — all because he loves us. Today’s reading concludes by stating that Christ the King is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, that is, the A and the Z, the beginning and the end of our lives and of all life. Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the alphabet in Greek, the original language of this book. Giving Jesus the Alpha title reminds us of the first theme John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Word of God, pre-existing with the Father before all creation. To call Jesus the Omega is to say that he will be in charge at the end of the world. The four passages refer to the supreme Kingship of Christ who founded a Kingdom for us, where He has made us priests dedicated to the service of God his Father. He will come a second time to judge all men.
Gospel exegesis: The Biblical basis of the feast: A) Old Testament texts: The title “Christ the King” has its roots both in Scripture and in the whole theology of the Kingdom of God. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, Christ the Messiah is represented as a King. B) New Testament texts: a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 13:2-33, we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and He will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus. b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt. 2:2) “Where is the baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw his star… and we have come to worship him.” c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, who comes in the name of the Lord.” d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question: (Jn 18:33): “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. I was born and came into this world for this one purpose, to bear witness to the Truth.” e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, king of the Jews.” f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: (Mt. 28:18): “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.” g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.
Jesus’ clarification of his kingship before Pilate during his trial: The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God, and they wanted him to die by the most shameful and painful death, Roman execution. Hence, they brought Jesus before Pilate the Roman governor and accused Jesus of causing sedition against the Roman Empire and Caesar. “We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king” (Lk 23:2). Today’s Gospel presents the first part of the trial conducted by Pilate who questions Jesus about his kingship. In his dialogue with Pilate, Jesus implies that Pilate does not understand the spiritual or transcendent nature of Jesus’ kingship (“My Kingdom does not belong to this world”). Jesus admits that he is a king but declares that his Kingdom is not of this world. Neither his present nor his future reign operates according to the world’s criteria of power and dominance. Jesus’ Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes, and he rules through loving service rather than through domination. His authority is rooted in truth, not in physical force. Jesus also claims that he has come to bear witness to the truth about a larger and eternal Kingdom. Jesus has come to bear witness to the truth: about God and His love, about us and about whom we are called to be.
What is the Kingdom of God? What is the Kingdom of Christ the King? Here is a beautiful explanation given by Gerald Darring (St. Louis University: Center for Liturgy): The Kingdom of God is a space. It exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy. The Kingdom of God is a time. It happens whenever someone feeds a hungry person, or shelters a homeless person, or shows care to a neglected person. It happens whenever we overturn an unjust law, or correct an injustice, or avert a war. It happens whenever people join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the Faith. The Kingdom of God is in the past (in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth); it is in the present (in the work of the Church and in the efforts of many others to create a world of goodness and justice); it is in the future (reaching its completion in the age to come). The Kingdom of God is a condition. Its symptoms are love, justice, and peace. Jesus Christ is king! We pray today that God may free all the world to rejoice in His peace, to glory in His justice, to live in His love.
Life Messages: 1) We need to assess our commitment to Christ the King today. As we celebrate the Kingship of Christ today, let us remember the truth that He is not our King if we do not listen to him, love him, serve him, and follow him. We belong to his Kingdom only when we try to walk with him, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel and when that Gospel spirit penetrates every facet of our living. If Christ is really King of my life, he must be King of every part of my life, and I must let him reign in all parts of my life. We become Christ the King’s subjects when we sincerely respond to his loving invitation: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart“ (Matthew 11:29). By cultivating in our lives the gentle and humble mind of Christ, we show others that Jesus Christ is in indeed our King and that he is in charge of our lives.
2) We need to give Jesus control over our lives. Today’s Feast of Christ the King reminds us of the great truth that Christ must be in charge of our lives, that we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will. In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in Christ’s Kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Let us ask ourselves the question, “What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?” Are we praying each day that our King will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus? Does our home life as well as the way we conduct ourselves with our friends come under the Kingship of Jesus? Or do we try to please ourselves rather than him?
3) We need to follow Christ the King’s lesson of humble service to the truth. Christ has come to serve and to be of service to others. Hence, we are called to his service – service to the truth. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying that the reason for his coming – the reason that he was born – was to “bear witness” to the truth. The truth to which Jesus bears witness by His Life and which he teaches us is that God, His Father, is also our loving and forgiving Father, so we are all His children, forming one body. Hence, whatever we do for His children, and our sisters and brothers, we do for Him. So we are called to be a people who reach out to embrace the enemy and the stranger, a people who are called to glory in diversity, a people who will endlessly forgive, a people who will reach out in compassion to the poor and to the marginalized sectors of our society, a people who will support one another in prayer, a people who will realize that we are called not to be served, but to serve. In other words, servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has given us. “For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve Him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder’” (CCC #786).
4) We need to obey the law of love of Christ the King. Citizens of Christ’s kingdom are expected to observe only one major law–the law of love. “Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jesus expects a higher degree of love from His followers: “Love one another as I have loved you.” On this great Feast of Christ the King, let us resolve to give him the central place in our lives and promise to obey his commandment of love by sharing what we have with all his needy children.
JOKES OF THE WEEK
#1: Christ is in charge: Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: “Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: ‘Thomas, who is in charge here?’ Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ ”
#2: Co-pilot Christ the king: Many people love bumper sticker theology. Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think. One such, “God is my Co-pilot,” has also been found on Church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder. In this case, the Church sign says, “If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats.”
# 3: “Right near the end!” Once a priest was giving a homily and as he went on, he became more animated. He made a sweeping gesture – and accidentally knocked his papers from the pulpit. He scrambled to pick them up, then asked, “Now, where was I?” A voice from the congregation responded, “Right near the end!” Well, we are at the end – not of the homily, but of the liturgical year
# 4: The most famous man who ever lived: One day a kindergarten teacher nun said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give $2 to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.” An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick. “The teacher said, “Sorry Sean, that’s not correct.” Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either. “Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Marvin, come up here and I’ll give you the $2.” As the teacher was giving Marvin his money, she said, “You know Marvin, you being Jewish, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” Marvin replied, “Yeah. In my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business…”
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
1) Abbot’s circle website: https://www.theabbotscircle.com/home/
1) The Catholic Liturgical Library: http://www.catholicliturgy.com/
2) Liturgical Calendar: http://www.themass.org/c-1109.htm
4) Preach the word: http://www.preachtheword.com/topical.html
35- Additional anecdotes
1) A Man for All Seasons: There is a great scene in the play, A Man for All Seasons, that fits very well with today’s Feast of Christ the King. You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second-in-charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law but really because she had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom. After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome. Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do. Then we come to the center point. Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?” Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest. And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest. There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support. But you are different. And people know it. That is why I need your support.” In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject.
2) “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the ancient Egyptian king, Ramses, whose arrogant motto was inscribed on temples still standing, “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the king of China, a savage tyrant who used millions of slaves to build the Great Wall of China, a wall so huge that it can be seen from the moon. He is not a king like Louis XIV, who lived in excessive luxury in his Versailles palace of 1000 rooms. Jesus is different in that he was not born of a reigning King, though He is of the royal House of David, but as the Scripture tells, Jesus is the One Whom God “will choose as king….” There is no other king like King Jesus, for Jesus is a Divine King, none other than the very Son of God, the Messiah. Jeremiah calls Him, “the Lord of our Salvation.” (v. 6) St. Paul sees this in Jesus who is “the image of the invisible God” and in Whom dwells “all the fullness of God.” Jesus himself knows who He is, for He says, “The Father and I are one … he who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
3) Desperate deaths of autocratic kings and dictators: The death of Josef Stalin (1879-1953) the Communist dictator was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visible than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), who proved himself to be an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX of France (1550-1574, reigned 1560-1574), who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was reported to have said she would give, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare with these royal deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)
4) King in disguise: The story is told of Mother Teresa of Calcutta observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm’s length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, “You don’t understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to him.”
5) Francis of Assisi was wealthy, high-born and high-spirited, but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was riding, and he met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and, lo, in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of the Christ.
6) Leo Tolstoy’s story “Martin the Cobbler” tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, and a child in need of a friend. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking “Perhaps tomorrow He will come,” only to hear a voice reply, “I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times.”
7)”Long Live Christ the King! Long Live the Pope.” Those of us, who pray for the persecuted Church, mourned the loss of Ignatius, Cardinal Kung who died at the age of 98. He stood by his convictions, and withstood persecution for his Faith. He was consecrated the bishop of Shanghai in 1949, shortly after the Communists took over China. The Chinese government pressured him to align his loyalties to the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.” But he refused, choosing to remain loyal to his Church’s chain of command. In 1955, the authorities brought him and 200 other priests to a stadium in Shanghai. The government ordered them to “confess their crimes.” Instead, Kung shouted “Long Live Christ the King! Long Live the Pope.” Shortly thereafter, he received a life sentence, where he spent the next 30 years in prison, most of the time in solitary confinement. When he was freed in 1987, he came to the United States with his nephew and settled in Stamford, Connecticut. He went to his eternal reward on March 12, 2000.
8) “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their fanatical zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became mentally deranged; another was slain by his own son. One of them became blind; another was drowned. One was strangled; another died in miserable captivity. One of them died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room. Two committed suicide; another attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work. Five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners. Among those who died in battle was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle and saw that all was over with him, he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (Boise)
9) “He is something more than a king.” In Lloyd Douglas’ novel, The Robe, the slave, Demetrius, pushed his way through the crowd on Palm Sunday, trying to see who the center of attraction was. He got close enough to look upon the face of Jesus. Later another slave asked, “See him – close up?” Demetrius nodded. “Crazy?” Demetrius shook his head emphatically. “King! No,” muttered Demetrius, “not a king.” “What is he then?” demanded the other slave. “I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “but he is something more than a king.”
10) “Honey, take a long, long look”: As the body of Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio for mourners to pay their tribute, a black woman in the long queue lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. He died for us, to give us freedom from slavery.” Today’s Gospel gives us the same advice, presenting the trial scene of Christ our King who redeemed us from Satan’s slavery by His death on the cross.
11) “Little omission of kindness”: William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President, once had to choose between two equally qualified men for a key job. He puzzled over the choice until he remembered a long-ago incident. On a rainy night, McKinley had boarded a crowded streetcar. One of his prospective candidates was in the car. When an old woman carrying a basket of laundry struggled into the car looking for a seat, the job candidate pretended not to see her while McKinley obliged. Remembering the episode as a “little omission of kindness,” McKinley decided against the man on the streetcar. Our decisions – even the small fleeting ones – tell a lot about us, whether we serve ourselves or Christ our King living in others. [Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller Jr. (Penguin Books).]
12) The Generals of Insignificance in our lives: In the Berlin Art Gallery there is a painting by the famous artist Adolph von Menzel that is only partially finished. It is called, “Frederick the Great Addresses His Generals before the Battle of Leuthen in 1757.” Menzel painstakingly painted the generals first, placing them around the outside of the painting as a background and leaving a bare patch in the middle of the painting for the King. But Menzel died before he could finish the painting. So there is a painting full of generals but no king. We often spend much time enthroning the generals of insignificance in our lives and postpone inviting Jesus the King of Kings into our hearts till the last moment which is quite uncertain. As a result, many Christians die without putting Christ into the very center of their lives. The painting of our lives will never be complete until we place at its center Christ the King whose feast we celebrate today.
13) “I shall be that soldier.” Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian. In fact, that was his name — Christian X – who was King of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle. Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand. In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement. On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German Kommandant and asked that the flag be removed. “The flag flies,” the Kommandant replied, “because I ordered it flown. Request denied.” “I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.” “Then he will be shot,” said the Kommandant. “I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.” The flag was removed.
14) Jesse Owens crushing Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy theory: The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer’s authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the U.S.A. He was aptly called “the fastest human alive.” Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his “Aryan race” of “supermen” would conquer the world. In implementing his theory, he began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks (Negroes as they were called then), as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler’s claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. Today is Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar, an appropriate time for us to grapple with the whole question of authority. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we give allegiance.
15) Faith in and fidelity to the King: While battling the Philistines, King David was camped at a place called the Cave of Adullam. He was tired of fighting and was longing for a taste of home. David said, wishing out loud, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” Three of his most able and faithful soldiers overheard the king, and took it upon themselves to go and get water from that well for him. It meant risking their necks, for they had to break through the camp of the Philistines to do it. When they brought the water to David, however, he refused to drink it. He recognized how dangerous it had been to get the water, and he realized that this act showed how highly they regarded him. Instead of drinking it, he poured it out on the ground as an offering to the Lord. David had already shown his faith in his men, and these three were responding with faith and love for their king. (1 Chronicles 11:15-19). What about Christ? Does he inspire Faith in you?
16) In the Line of Fire. Dr. Gary Nicolosi compares God’s love to the 1993 hit film, In the Line of Fire. Clint Eastwood plays Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan had protected the life of the President for more than three decades, but he was haunted by the memory of what had happened thirty years before. Horrigan was a young agent assigned to President Kennedy on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963. When the assassin fired, Horrigan froze in shock. For thirty years afterward, he wrestled with the ultimate question for a Secret Service agent: Can I take a bullet for the President? In the climax of the movie, Horrigan does what he had been unable to do earlier: he throws himself into the path of an assassin’s bullet to save the President. Secret Service agents are willing to do such a thing because they believe the President is so valuable to our country that he is worth dying for. At Calvary the situation was reversed, says Dr. Nicolosi. The President of the Universe actually took a bullet for each of us. At the cross we see how valuable we are to God.
17) The shivering and hungry King: This is a story about an Irish King. He had no children to succeed him on the throne, so he decided to choose his successor from among the people. The only condition set by the King, as announced throughout his kingdom, was that the candidate must have a deep love for God and neighbor. In a remote village of the kingdom lived a poor but gentle youth who was noted for his kindness and helpfulness to all his neighbors. The villagers encouraged him to enter the contest for kingship. They took up a collection for him so that he could make the long journey to the royal palace. After giving him the necessary food and a good overcoat, they sent him on his way. As the young man neared the castle, he noticed a beggar sitting on a bench in the royal park, wearing torn clothes. He was shivering in the cold while begging for food. Moved with compassion, the young man gave the beggar his new overcoat and the food he had saved for his return journey. After waiting for a long time in the parlor of the royal palace, the youth was admitted for an interview with the king. As he raised his eyes after prostrating before the king, he was amazed to find the King wearing the overcoat he had given to the beggar at the park and greeting him as the new King of the country. When He comes in glory, Christ the King is going to judge us on the basis of our corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
18) “If only I knew it was you!” Nelson Mandela was still a young man when he became leader of the banned African National Congress. At a certain stage of the struggle he was forced to go underground. He used many disguises and in general remained as unkempt as possible, so that he would not be easily recognized. Once he was to attend a meeting in a distant part of Johannesburg. A priest had arranged with friends of his to put him up for the night. However, when Mandela arrived at the house, the elderly woman who answered the doorbell took one look at him and exclaimed, “We don’t want your kind here!” And she shut the door in his face. Later when she found out who it was she had turned away she was horrified and said to him, “If only I knew it was you, I’d have given you the best room in the house.” Mandela did not let incidents like this deter him. Jesus appears to us in different guises. If only we knew it was He … [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
19) Gluttonous kings versus humble king: Hu Hai was the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Hu Hai indulged in the super luxurious life. He forced a large number of peasants from around the country to build Epang Palace and the mausoleum in Lishan Mountain. He ordered 50,000 soldiers to defend the capital and all parts of the country were forced ceaselessly to send provisions to the capital. Several of the Roman emperors, unmatched in wealth and power, fully demonstrated a capacity for luxury and gluttony. Among these emperors, Claudius (ruled AD 41–54) is famous. The luxury banquet laid out in the famous tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt (died 1352 BC.), which was intended for the monarch to enjoy in the afterlife, included a gourmet selection of wines inscribed with names of wine districts— one may call them— the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta, and the Oases. Hundreds of attendants waited on them. Against this background, there came a King, giving a shocking surprise to his followers. Jesus washed the feet of his followers and waited on them. He performed a gesture that had never been heard of, and commanded his followers to do the same, and to follow it as a new commandment in his Kingdom. (Fr. Bobby Jose).
20) Large grave in the monastery: St. Theodosius was a monk who lived in Palestine in the 500s. After growing in holiness himself, he decided to start a new monastery, which soon attracted so many vocations that it became more of a monastic city than just a monastery. One of the first things he did when he founded his monastery was rather shocking. He dug a large grave, right in the middle of the cloister. When he had finished digging, the little group of curious monks gathered around the rectangular pit to get an explanation. Theodosius said simply: “Here you see a grave. Here we will all one day be buried and our bodies will return to the dust from which they were made. Remember this, my sons, so that you never stray from the Lord’s sure but narrow road of prayer and self-denial. It is better to die to ourselves each day and rise again on the Day of Judgment than indulge ourselves foolishly now and remain in the grave forever.” St Theodosius had learned well the lesson of today’s parable – Christ wants us to know what’s going to happen after death, so that we can make the right choices throughout our life. (E-Priest).
21) The British Navy Welcomes the Devil: The main point of Pope Pius XI’s 1925 encyclical on the Fest of Christ the King was to remind Catholics that Christ matters not only for our private lives, but for our public lives too. That reminder is as valid today as it was in 1925. We are constantly bombarded by media messages that tell us to keep our religion safe at home and keep it out of the public square. But if we don’t defend and spread Christian values in society, what values will thrive there? If we don’t continue to bring Christ into culture, what will culture become? You may remember a story that was in the news a couple of years ago. It told how the British Royal Navy officially recognized and approved of the practice of Satanism. A naval technician named Chris Cramer, who explicitly claimed to be a devil worshipper, was granted permission to perform satanic rituals on his ship. A Royal Navy spokesman explained that the Navy was “an equal opportunity employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values.” If we truly believe that Christ is the Savior, that there really is one God who created us and redeemed us, we should not be afraid to bring that Faith to play in the society around us. If we don’t bring it to play, others will bring into play other values and beliefs, and those may not be as innocent as we would like. All religions are not the same. All values systems are the not the same. Today, the Church is reminding us of this, and encouraging us to be faithful followers of the one, true God, who so loved the world that He sent His Son to be our Savior by winning for us the forgiveness of sins through His death on the cross. [Rev. Francis M. de Rosa, STL; E- Priest.]
22) Hilaire Belloc won the election: In 1908, the famous Anglo-French historian and writer, Hilaire Belloc [BELL-ock] ran for the British Parliament. His opponents tried to scare off his supporters by claiming that Belloc’s faithfulness to the Catholic Church would inhibit him from being objective. Belloc responded in a speech: “Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking his beads out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell its beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God for having spared me the indignity of being your representative.” The crowd was shocked for a minute, and then burst out in applause. Belloc went on to win that election, and many more. If Catholics cannot bring Christ’s wisdom, goodness, and grace into our society, what do we have to offer? Our paltry human wisdom? Our own tendencies to selfishness? Our shortsightedness? Pope Pius XI’s encyclical stresses that Christ truly is the King of the Universe, that He will reign forever, and that the Church on earth is the beginning of His Kingdom. It is not enough, therefore, for Christians to hold onto their Faith just in their private lives. We must bring Christ and Christian values into culture, politics, and every sphere of society. If we truly believe in Christ, why would we be afraid of defending and spreading Christian values? Why would we let ourselves be bullied by secular fundamentalists who try to exclude Christ from culture? (E- Priest).
23) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St Peter’s Square in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a single block of granite in the shape of the Washington monument, almost 100 feet high and weighing 330 tons. It is the oldest obelisk in Rome, dating from about 1850 BC. At that time it had been erected as a monument to the Pharaoh, and it watched over two thousand years of Egyptian history – the longest reigning empire in history. It stood there when Abraham was called, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, soon after the Magi came to worship him, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority as conqueror of Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, the largest empire in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, along with hundreds of other early Christians. Then the barbarians invaded Rome, and in the Middle Ages it fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old Basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when a new Christian culture emerged and flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk re-erected in the center of the plaza. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt, Rome and the barbarian hoards. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ, conquering his Kingdom, was crucified. Now it serves the universal Kingdom that will have no end, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (E- Priest).
24) Empires Come and Go – The Church Endures: St Maximilian Kolbe: This is one of the reasons why tyrants hate the Catholic Church so much. Tyrants want total control – we call their governments “totalitarian regimes“. And so they can’t stand the Catholic Church, because it is a constant reminder that they don’t have total control – that they can’t; only God can. And so, just as Herod tried to do with Jesus, the eternal King, they try to stamp out the Church, the eternal Kingdom. The Roman emperors tried. The barbarian tribes of northern Europe tried. The Medieval Islamic Caliphs tried. The French Revolutionaries tried. Napoleon tried – he even kidnapped the Pope, twice! The Nazis tried, and the Communists tried too, giving the twentieth century the bittersweet honor of having more Christian martyrs than any previous century. The tyrants of every generation try to take over the throne that only Christ can occupy, but the Church continues to survive, grow, and spread. A favorite example of this unconquerability of our Faith is found in St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the Franciscan priest who died famously in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. A fellow prisoner had been condemned to death. But the condemned man had a family, and St. Maximilian had none, so the saint offered himself as a substitute. It was the crowning action of a string of selfless deeds that he performed throughout his imprisonment. Even the horrors of that concentration camp couldn’t conquer his Christian spirit. He celebrated secret masses on crowded, plank bunk beds; he secretly heard confessions walking through the mud to work; he even gave hope to his fellow death-row inmates: for fifteen days they prayed and sang hymns in the bunker where they were being starved to death. This is Christ the King’s everlasting, unconquerable, universal Kingdom. This is our Kingdom. This is our Church. (E- Priest).
25) The King of Kings is here!The old Cardinal, Hugh Latimer, often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the King with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented to Henry VIII a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner –“Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge,” a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust, and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time (the next Sunday), when the Cardinal preached he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, “Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here.” At the same time a voice in his heart said, “Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here.” Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies).
26) The real king? This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to “rubber stamp” all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the constitution, he did not have a choice – as figurehead monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the Parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. Granted, earthly monarchs need constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power. But, that’s not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ’s reign in our lives, we’re just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives. Clearly then, there’s false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, “Go to Hell!” sure, it’s easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, “I’m free – I don’t have to go anywhere I don’t want to go!” Yet the same people who declare self-determination their highest law and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning in their hearts Christ the King, will discover, when HE solemnly speaks those same words as the judgment of eternal damnation, the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. [John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online Reflections; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]
27) A king of love, mercy and justice: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty. There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BC there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads; they burned cities; they filled populous lands with death and devastation; they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors; they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff; they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones; they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities; they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters; they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs.” The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings, summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbors as yourself.” In the ancient world where enemies were treated with great cruelty, and criminals were murdered mercilessly, this was a shocking message. But from this emerged the uniqueness of the Kingdom Jesus. On this code is grounded the power of His kingdom which will last forever. This has made the kingdom of Jesus different from all the kingdoms on the earth. History has seen the rise and fall of many empires. But history has not seen any empire other than the empire of Jesus that grows century after century. When the angel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, he said, “His kingdom will have no end.”(Lk 1:33) The angel thus conformed the prophecy of Daniel: “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.” (Dan 7:14). Fr. Bobby Jose.
28) Jesus is the king of hearts: Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another. Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us. Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials. But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez).
29) Come unto me: A wonderful statue of Jesus the Christ exists in the cathedral of Denmark’s fairy-tale city of Copenhagen. The sculptor was the master Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen who died in 1844. He chose to sculpt a monumental Christ, the Christus, that would reveal Him in all His majesty. His hands would be raised as befitted His awesome power. His face would look out regally on everyone and everything. He would indeed be the King of kings, the Man in total control. It was done. “Jesus is the greatest figure in human history,” the sculptor said when the clay model was finished, “and this statue will so represent Him.” However, a funny thing happened on the way to the unveiling. The statue was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with the clay Christ statue. The upraised hands had drooped. They no longer commanded. Rather, they beseeched. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the Master’s chest. The person who wore this face had known many problems and was compassion itself. This was no longer a King before whom one would grovel and stutter, “Your Royal Majesty.” Rather, it was a Shepherd solicitous for every one of His sheep. At first, Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally conceived. Indeed, it might have been providentially planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “FOLLOW MY COMMANDS” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that was no longer appropriate. Instead he chiseled the softer message “COME UNTO ME.” To this day, this benign Nazarene touches the hearts and spirits of those who enter the Copenhagen cathedral. It is reported that often Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece reduces spectators to tears. In most probability, it has more of a genuine effect on them than his majestic Christ ever would have. The statue reminds them of His famous words to a puzzled Pontius Pilate in today’s Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Father James Gilhooley).
30) “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” I am sure that most of you have read the immortal play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. After the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius, the body of Caesar lies before the people. It is then that Mark Anthony gives his famous speech reminding the people how much Caesar loved and cared for them. He said, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones. So be it with Caesar. The noble Brutus has told you that Caesar was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously has Caesar answered it. Caesar was my friend, faithful and just to me. He has brought many captives here to Rome, whose ransom did the general coffers fill.” Then he mentioned Caesar’s will in which he made the Roman citizens his heir. — Often, we forget the good and great things people do to us. It took Mark Anthony to remind the Roman citizens of Caesar’s love and care. Then their hearts were set on fire. This morning may we remember the great love, care and power which Christ has bestowed upon us. L/18
31) King of kings and Lord of lords. Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years, was initiated. It was Augustus who ordered the building of roads linking the colonies of the great Empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of Emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title Emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil, and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: “In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1) Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born One who was far greater than he. He was the One Who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer, always referred to Jesus as “His Majesty,” and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.”( http://stjohngrandbay.org/wt/client/v2/story/WT_Story.cfm?SecKey=151).
32) Cruel, savage kings versus king Jesus Christ: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty. There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BCE there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads; they burned cities; they filled populous lands with death and devastation; they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors; they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff; they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones; they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities; they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters; they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs.” The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love others as I have loved you.”(Fr. Bobby Jose).
33) Jesus wins, Pilate loses: George III of England, America’s enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word “independence” without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned “Emperor of the New World.” That’s what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, “Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn’t. (William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart. Freedom Riders). Quoted by Fr. Kayala.
34) Freedom Riders in the American South: Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the ’50s and ’60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King. When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted, and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep. For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, “You can take our mattresses, but you can’t take our souls!” The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious.Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King! (Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain — Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, CSS Publishing). Quoted by Fr. Kayala.
35) Gandhi’s Strength: In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness. This what happened to Christ the King. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace) Quoted by Fr. Kayala.
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No 64) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit this website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/for missed or previous Cycle B homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily.
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.