Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homily / Sermon for the feast of Christ the King (34th Sunday of the Year)

Homily for the feast of Christ the King.

"So you are a king, then?" (John 18:37)

Jesus seems hesitant in answering this question, and throughout the Gospels we find Jesus shrinking from any claim to be a king. When they call him a King or Son of David, he tells them to be quiet. When Peter proclaims him to be the Messiah he tells him to keep it quiet. When James and John ask to sit by his side in the kingdom, he warns them to expect not glory, but suffering. Time and time again, when the disciples speak excitedly about his coming kingdom, he reduces their expectations, warns them of consequences, orders them to keep silence.

And perhaps our first explanation is that Jesus, if we call him a king at all, is a king of hearts and minds, not clubs and weapons. His kingdom is not of this world. He has no army, no armoury, no territory, no generals. He is weak and vulnerable, or so it seems. He is gentle, meek, mild: the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, not the general who sends them like lambs for the slaughter.

But there is more to say. This king is not weak - he is powerful, immensely powerful. And his kingdom is not only a kingdom within the heart or soul. He healed the sick, he made the lame walk, he even raised some from death. Yes he suffered and died, but with great nobility he stood dumb before his accusers and in great victory he defeated even death itself. He rightly prevents the disciples for proclaiming that he is King, because is far more than a King, he is the Eternal Word of God, through whom all things were made, who for us, for our salvation, came down from heaven, and who will come again to judge the living and the dead.

So why did he hesitate to call himself a King? Not because he did not have the power of an earthly king, but because no earthly king has the power of the Son of God. 

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