11.25.18. Sun. wk. 34 – O. T. – B The Feast of Christ the King
Daniel 7: 13 – 14
Revelation 1: 5 – 8
Gospel – John 18: 33b – 37
Please refer to your own Bible for the Scripture Readings.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy We Are In A Royal Family
There is an amazing fascination with royalty. Magazines are devoted to reporting on the life-styles of the world’s royal families. In this past year – the wedding between Britain’s Prince Harry and American commoner, Meghan Markle was watched world-wide. I am sure many of you were glued to your television sets – watching all the pomp and circumstance. When we think of royalty, we often think of a glamorous life of ease and luxury. But we also know from history, and from the media, and the paparazzi – that many royal families are truly dysfunctional – that the money and the power cannot take away human frailty. In fact, there is one theory that ‘Jack the Ripper’, the infamous killer in nineteenth century England, was a member of the Royal Family. So often – the world lacks good examples for the right kind of royalty to follow. And so when the Church celebrates ‘The Solemnity of Christ the King’, it doesn’t compute with us.
It was some 230 years ago when we fought a Revolution to rid being ruled by a king. But still, we do have our own form of ‘Royalty’ here in the United States – presidents, politicians, athletes and movie stars. But, we all know – they let us down – too. They are not always the best of examples to follow. We need a different image of Royalty or Kingship to understand how Christ is given that title of ‘King’. The old models don’t show us how to be “Faith-filled disciples of this King’. Possibly we need to go back to the ancient images of kingship. It might give us a glimpse of why this image was attached to †Jesus.
The ancient ideal of Kingship was – that a King was faced with making difficult decisions – decisions that required him to have wisdom and mercy and justice. And back in the ancient times – when a person – a member of a tribe, or the people decided who would be king – it was one that could provide for them. They wanted someone that was truly just and kind and yet could rally them if they had to protect themselves from oppressors. They wanted a king who could truly lead them and give them a good life. Ancient Kings were expected to live in service to their people and they were chosen specifically because they possessed that ability to be of service. Ancient Kings would ride ahead of their army – willing to give their lives to protect their people. They were called by God to live holy lives and able to love their people sacrificially; to do without so the people could have more. This is the ancient image of Kingship.
Now the title: ‘King’ – is simply one metaphor among many that is used in the Scriptures to describe †Jesus. †Jesus was also called a ‘Shepherd’ – a ‘Teacher’ – a “Prophet’. As the ideal King – was an example to the people – †Jesus offers us an example of “Kingdom Living”; or how we are to live in the Kingdom. After all – we are called to be a ‘Royal People’. We hear this in one of the ‘prefaces’: “You are a royal priesthood” – a royal people. If that’s the case – we need to have examples to follow so that we can be leaders of people. We can be servants of other people as Christ was. The Kingdom is not some future ‘utopia’ that we await – because as you know, †Jesus taught: “The Kingdom of God is among you” (Luke 17:21) – it is right here! He has taught us how to live in the Kingdom – awaiting the fullness of the Kingdom that will come.
†Jesus teaches us that we are to be members of His Royal family – Members of “The Body of Christ”. It’s not about glamour, it’s not about wealth, and it’s not about power. †Jesus witnessed by His Life – that we are called to be humble servants, loving servants. We are to be merciful, just, and truthful and we must be willing to bring God’s peace to challenging moments of our lives. “Blessed are the Peace Makers – for they will be called:
‘Children of God’ and members of His royal family”. So we must be willing to lay down our lives so that others may live. “There is no greater love than this – than to give of your life for another”.
These are all the images that come with ‘Christ the King’, that we are expected and called upon to imitate – to be part of His Royal People. So, are you members of this Royal Family? “Yes – all of us here are members of this Royal Family”. We are brothers and sisters of “Christ the King”. We are members of this Royal Family by virtue of our Baptism. And our mission as Christian Royalty is to offer a vision to the world – a new vision – a vision of a new heaven and a new earth. That’s our role as members of this royal family.
How do we present this vision? Like †Jesus we stand in powerlessness – before the powers of the world – as †Jesus gave Himself up to the power of Pilate. Pilate didn’t have any idea what it meant when †Jesus said: “I am a king.” When Pilate thought of the word “King” he thought it meant the great Caesars of Rome – who had power and wealth and luxury – the power over life and death. As a result, Pilate didn’t have a clue of what †Jesus meant when He said: “My Kingdom is not of this world”.
We are to offer our lives – letting go of power – and possessions – and prestige – to live and speak the truth – and to speak the truth as ‘†Jesus the King’ did. There are times when we have to fraternally correct another person – so they don’t fall into spiritual death. We have to be willing and have the courage to go up to that person and point out their wrong-doing – in a kind and compassionate and loving way – because that’s what the King does. That’s what he did for us. We must be prepared to do everything to love our neighbor.
We just celebrated Thanksgiving Day in gratitude to God for all the blessings. Gratitude is seen in our willingness to share what we have with others – rather than hide what we have behind walls – our “castle walls” and hoard them. We need to share them. To be grateful is seen in our willingness to give to others – out of love for God. †Jesus gave all that He could and when He had nothing left – He gave His life. That is why the words above the Cross are so true: “†Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews”. He is ‘KING” because that’s the image of the true King – who is selfless – kind and merciful. If we are part of ‘His Royal Family’ – these are the virtues that we too must embrace.
Christ the King – with true humility – stooped down and took on our humanity – lowered Himself to become one like us. Through suffering and shame – He conquered worldly pride and pleasure and prestige. And at the moment that He gave His life – as He hung on the cross – there were no bitter or angry words. There was only the soft, selfless expression: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. (Luke 23:24) As a Royal People we are forgiving. We don’t get mad, we don’t get even – we forgive. That’s how we become part of this Royal Family.
This is the King that I follow – who gave us that example. This is the King that I am willing to give my life for – not always perfectly – but thank God – †Jesus is a merciful King for all of us. This Kingdom is not drawn on a map – nor is it guarded by weapons on a border. This kingdom is anywhere – anytime – men and women freely and joyfully choose to live as Jesus did. This Kingdom is anytime – anywhere people choose to live in obedience to His teaching. To love one another as He has loved us and to be as holy as He is Holy.
St. Augustine wrote: “His Kingdom is here until the end of time. And until the harvest – it will contain weeds….The Kingdom is not from here – it is in exile in the world. Christ says to His Kingdom: ‘You are not of this world – but I have chosen you out of the world’. As members of His Royal Family – we are chosen not to be of the world – but He will call us out of the world.” (excerpt from Tractates on the Gospel of John, 115.2) We are to be different than the world’s vision of power and prestige. And who we honor is not some golden-crowned, ermine-robed monarch we see on a BBC television series. That’s not who we follow! We honor the Flesh and Blood – Divinely Begotten Son of God – He who led the way in witnessing how we are to live in the Kingdom – the Kingdom that is already here – but not complete.
We are to be faithful witnesses – made into a Kingdom of Royal Priests for our God.
For Him – be Glory and Power for Ever and Ever. Amen. (Rev.1:7)
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.