25.11.2007 -The Solemnity of Jesus Christ, Universal King
Introduction: The solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe reminds us the fundamental truth, that we all belong to His Kingdom, and that we are His subjects. Is it really true that I am His subject? "Whom do I serve in my life?"
Penitential Rite: We come together to honor Christ our King. As we prepare for this Eucharist, let us recognize our weaknesses and need for his mercy and forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, you are the image of the invisible God, Lord have mercy,
Christ Jesus, in you we have redemption and forgiveness of our sins, Christ have mercy,
Lord Jesus, you make peace by the blood of your cross, Lord have mercy.
2 Samuel 5, 1-3; Psalm 121 (122), 1-2.3-4.4-5; Colossians 1, 12-20; St. Luke 23, 35-43
On this final Sunday of the liturgical year we are reminded that we belong to a kingdom that does not belong to this world. We serve Christ the King. But he is a king like no other. The readings for this Sunday will help us appreciate the difference.
So on this great feast of Christ the King, we recognize the great irony. There were those expecting a messiah, a powerful, mighty warrior king, and then this person Jesus showed up. We acknowledge that even today we can be searching for a particular kind of king, a particular kind of God. As God speaks to us in many ways through the life of His Son, and the words of scripture, we can begin to lay our preconceptions aside and let God show us what a king is. Let God show us who God is.
In the Gospel we discover Jesus, who does not live in luxury or comfort, but rather experiences the worst suffering, mockery and abuse this world can offer. We see Jesus, the very Son of God, who time and time again gave to others, gave of Himself without counting the cost, without concern for appearances, and recognizing that living in such a way would cost Him His life.
We are tempted to place all of our trust in human efforts, ourselves, our friends, popular opinion. Power and worldly success too often hold greater value for us than participating with the suffering Son of God on the cross. Jesus Christ the King shows us what Saint Paul told the Corinthians: Jesus came through "the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." The other thief was one who believed. He began to see behind the dirt, grime and apparent foolishness, the saving power of Jesus Christ that is always present and among us. He was able to see in this beaten, dirty, bloody man… the power of love…someone who was just trying to help. In faith he makes his request to the king who can grant all: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
In the Kingdom of God the poor are brought to the top of the table, those who mourn rejoice, those who give away their last possessions receive riches beyond compare and so on. If the Kingdom turns things upside down, then we must have an upside down King. And that is precisely what Christ is, an upside down King. He is a King who carries the wounds of suffering; a King who knows persecution, a King who had no home, a King ignored by the aristocracy and the powerful. We have for our Gospel reading today the story of the crucifixion itself.
There is a story of a very faithful servant slave serving the family of the Roman Emperor Mark Aurelius for more than 70 years. The man was very loyal and devoted in his service. He fulfilled all his tasks, duties and obligations with an exactitude and responsibility for many, many years. And eventually the time came that he was at his last days on the bed seriously ill and dying. The Emperor Mark Aurelius came to his bed and ask him: "What I can do for you, tell me please, if there is something I can do to help you I will certainly be happy to do it, because you were such a good and faithful slave absolutely committed in the service to my family and to myself.
So the slave says: "I have only one request. After all this years and years of my faithful service can you, divine Emperor, extend my life for at least one year more. I have some obligations towards my family and I hope that in one year time I will be able to arrange all and everything, to be ready to die." So, the Emperor Mark Aurelius laughed bitterly and said: "I can do many things but this one I am not able to do!"
So the dedicated slave said: "So maybe you can lengthen my life for half of a year. I will try to complete my obligation towards my relatives." And so, the Emperor said with a kind of astonishment and bitterness: "I cannot!" Not disappointed by the answers the old man asks again: "So, perhaps you will be able to make longer my life for one month?" The Emperor, divine Mark Aurelius answered -this time with a kind of impatience- "I cannot!"
So, finally frustrated man says: "So if even one month is to difficult for you, so maybe you can prolong my life for one week?!" Already angry Emperor says: "No, stubborn slave, I can not extend your life even for one day, and even not for one hour!!!"
Bitterly -this time- old slave says finally: "How stupid I was serving you so faithfully all of my life. You are the King of the biggest Empire of the world, the most powerful person in the whole earth, and you cannot extend my life even for one minute!
If I serve so faithfully and so devotedly the King of the Universe, Jesus Christ, who died for me, He will be able to extend my life for all eternity! And now I am dying because I have served you and you are so week! How stupid I was the whole of my life!"
Maybe one question more: "Whom do I serve in my life?" There are so many kings and princesses, there are so many lords pretending to be powerful, and promising me different advantages … and I am so naive to believe all of them …
- God raised Jesus to life and made Him King of all creation. Let us pray that we might one day share in the glory of Paradise
- O God, you make us worthy members of your kingdom: hear these our prayers that one day we may be with you forever in your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ our Lord and King. Amen