The Solemnity of Christ the King (C)
In earlier times, when kings would conquer lands and occupy other kingdoms, they would go with their crusades. For victory they would receive crowns of gold or wreaths of leaves. Jesus came to conquer, not lands, for the earth is the LORD’S and all it holds, the world and those who live there (Ps 24:1). He came to conquer the devil, so that we would be free from evil. “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11). He was accused of blasphemy in claiming to be God, forgiving sins, dining with sinners, working and healing on the Sabbath, and many more. Jesus was brought before the leaders because of jealousy. He was too much for the Jews. Yes, the King was charged, and was judged guilty. Though earthly kings had to fight for their rights, Jesus Christ the King did not have to prove anything about Himself, even if He was reviled by the other criminal on the cross. He knew from the beginning that He was the Son and the Wisdom of God. He was glorified by the Father not with a crown of gold or a wreath of leaves, but with a crown of thorns and the cross, and ultimately with the glory of His Resurrection.
People want to be recognized, rewarded and glorified in whatever they know and do. They are selfish. They keep their power, their glory and their wealth for themselves. But Jesus said: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father” (Mt 6:1).
It is said that we cannot get something we never had, if we do not do something we never did. We won’t learn how to swim, if we do not leave the shore. We won’t learn how to drive, if we do not get into the road. We won’t overcome fright, unless we face what frightens us. We won’t pass a test, unless we take the test. Similarly we can’t learn about Jesus, if we do not read the Scriptures. We won’t learn about the Church, if we don’t go to Church. We cannot reign with Christ the King, if we do not learn what humble obedience to Him is. We cannot be filled with God and His gifts, if we do not empty ourselves. We cannot go up to heaven, if we do not go down to the ground and die to ourselves, like a seed that dies and grows according to the plan and will of God.
What are the ways of a king? An earthly king occupies, destroys and builds his own kingdom. His kingdom has to have his trademark. Whatever it may be, it has to bear his name. He instills fear among his subordinates to gain support, and executes whoever goes against his orders. They are at the mercy of His power. He has to exact taxes from his subordinates, in order to be rich, and to let the world know that his kingdom has resources. He and his court live luxuriously, while his subordinates live very poorly.
What are the ways of Jesus Christ, the King?
1. He seeks the lost sheep. Like a good shepherd, He does not expect the wandering lost sheep to find its ways in the wilderness. When a person wanders in the wilderness of evil, Jesus comes to Him, and gives him the provisions of the Spirit to receive His life again; and only with a humble, contrite heart of the sinner can he return to the fold.
2. Like the woman who diligently and patiently searches for the lost coin, Jesus cleans house and searches for the sinner. A lost coin does not jump out from hiding to be found. Man by himself cannot return to God. Only with the light of the Holy Spirit can a sinner see and feel again the healing hand of Jesus who brings him back to the dignity of a child of God.
3. Jesus instituted the Eucharist so that He would be man’s food. Without the Eucharist a Christian is hungry and empty, for Jesus is the bread of life; whoever comes to Him will never hunger, and whoever believes in Him will never thirst (cf Jn 6:35). Man without God is like the earth without water; and a Christian without Jesus is like a house without the master.
What should be our way? In cold areas, insects freeze in the cold, but when the sun comes out and shines on them, they start hopping around again. It’s the same with us Christians. When our hearts grow cold of indifference, arrogance, selfishness and greed, our relationships freeze. Only with the light, the warmth and the healing hand of Christ the King in the Sacraments, in prayer and in the Church, can our hearts start moving again, and jumping and praising God. So, let us keep our focus on the King of our hearts, the King of the universe, and commit ourselves again to listen to His voice and to follow His ways along the light of the Kingdom, so that in our endeavors and in every situation of life, we will be with Him in Paradise (cf. Lk 23:43), as He Himself is our Paradise. As happy Christians we do not only do what we are supposed to do, but we allow Jesus our King to rule our life and fulfill His work of salvation through us, for our Christianity is not something that we do, but Someone who we are. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist, so we become “Christs” to one another. We become kings to overcome evil. We become followers of Jesus our King, who does these things in us and through us.