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Homily – Feast of Christ the King – A

Posted by frmac on November 16, 2008

This Sunday we come to the end of this liturgical year, and as always, we look to the future; the ultimate future when Jesus will return in glory for the final judgment. The Church calls this Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, a feast on which we celebrate God’s Kingdom – God’s Rule.

Pope Pius XI established this Feast in 1925 at a time when fascism was on the rise and the world was about to experience Hitler and Mussolini. How different Christ’s rule is from the ruthless governance of these men. Although these tyrants were not Kings, they reigned in ruthlessness and cruelty. And, even in death, still have the power to make the world shudder in fear. Will it happen again – to us, we hear ourselves asking?

We have so many bad memories etched in our consciousness from a history of ruthless leaders – even Kings. Many, including myself, become uncomfortable when the term ‘King’ is applied to Jesus. But, we really shouldn’t. Listen to what Jesus said: 

“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over…but as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Then Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” And the truth that Jesus came to testify to was God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, and God’s call to repentance.

Jesus’ Kingdom is not about ruthless power, or royal attendants, or all those things we think of when thinking of kings. Lumen Gentium describes Christ’s Kingship in these few words, “to reign is to serve.” Matthew Gospel sums it up best, I think, when it says: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for the many” (Mt. 20:28).

We, the people of God rejoice this Sunday in God’s Love. We hear Ezekiel’s prophecy hundreds of years ago, and we know it is the truth:  “the lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal…” In humble repentance we accept the embrace of the Good Shepherd, and know that goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life, and that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Not that we deserve it, but because Jesus gave his life for us – the ultimate act of service. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn.10:11) Jesus loves Us!!

The Kingdom of God is amongst us – in our midst. This is what we believe. God is with us. God is always there for us, and God is always ready to help us live by God’s ways. We must always remember that God is always ready to forgive and comfort us when we repent. At times we might tend to doubt or feel unworthy. Maybe it is when we have acted in some deplorable manner. Maybe it is when someone else has acted in an unloving – unchristian manner. But then we hear the call of the Good Shepherd, “Come, come to me all that are weary.” We remember God’s love -God’s mercy. We find hope again, and surrender in repentance to the God who cherishes us. We keep on going, telling God we’re sorry, accepting God’s forgiveness, trying even harder, and remembering to pray for the wayward and our enemies. Listen to the words of an anonymous poet:

The Voice of the Good Shepherd

There is a mirror, deep inside,

A mirror, I would like to break.

In this mirror is only me,

The real me that others see.

Once I looked, and what I saw,

Was a me, I did not like.

Then one day, I looked again,

What a wretch, I heard me say.

So once more I looked again,

And there I was, the sinful me!

In my distress, I said a prayer,

And then I heard,

Come to me.

No God’s Kingship is not about self-serving, ruthless power, but about a God who is infinite love. Accepting Christ as King means that we strive to live like the Good Shepherd. It should not be surprising, therefore, to hear what Jesus says about the Day of Judgment, and how we will be judged: Let us listen to his words again:

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

We, God’s people, are loved and mercifully cherished. Each one of us has heard God’s call to repentance, and been mercifully forgiven, and embraced by the Good Shepherd. Having accepted God’s loving embrace, we recognize our faults, our failings, our sinfulness, and are confident that God loves us and forgives us. As God’s people we also recognize that God expects us to open our hearts to God’s merciful and loving ways. This Feast of Christ The King is a reminder to each of us that we too are called to return God’s love by loving our neighbor, as ourselves. This is what God expects of us, and this is how Jesus will judge us.

Let us pray this Sunday that we will always strive to be open to the loving God that created us, died for us, and shows us the way, and invites us to eternal happiness. And, let us pray that we never lose our way, so that we never hear these words on the day of judgement:

“Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me. Depart from me….”

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