Sunday, November 25, 2012

Homily, Christ the King, Year B 2012

christ the kingWe celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King on the last weekend of Ordinary Time, at the end of another Church Year. Next weekend marks the beginning of Advent, the beginning of a new Church Year as we wait with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior at Christmas. We celebrate Christ the King at the end of the Church year because the Church wants to teach us that by putting his Kingship at the end, we can see that His Crown is the Crown of the year. All of the action of the Church Year moves forward and up to His Kingship and is summed up by it. He is the King of all we have done and all we have celebrated. Everything from his Incarnation to his Ascension is both a sign of and a testament to his Kingship. He is our king in here. Is he our king out there?

John’s Gospel today puts us into a terrible scene: Jesus is being interrogated, only hours before his crucifixion and death. Over his head will soon hang the charge for which he was found guilty. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin so that all who passed by could read it. The Latin read, “I.N.R.I.” (“Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum”) – Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. He claimed to be king, but the Jews and the Romans already had their king, King Herod. Therefore, Jesus was killed. His persecutors were so blinded by their sin and hatred that they could not see Him for Who He truly is. They were expecting a worldly king with worldly power. They could not see that here hung before them the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the King of a kingdom not of this world, the King of the kingdom of God. This he told Pilate when Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews. “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world… For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

Is Christ our King, not only in this Church, but in the rest of our lives as well? Can others recognize his reign over our hearts? Our first reading foretold that the king to come would be served by “all peoples, nations, and languages.” Are we part of the fulfillment of that prophecy? Can we recognize him as king? Will we know him when he comes again triumphantly? The Book of Revelation, as we heard in last weekend’s apocalyptic readings, proclaims that Christ is the long-awaited king, heir to the throne of David. He is the “ruler of the kings of the earth” and “he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.”

Let us treat this week, the end of the Church Year, like we often treat the end of the calendar year. Often the rolling of one year to the next causes us to look back and see how we have done. We may check our budget for the year and see how it panned out. We may check our expenses to see where we might save a little in the new year. This week, let’s look back on our spiritual year. Let’s call to mind how well we have been servants of our good and merciful Lord and King. Have we acknowledged him as our King? Or have we anointed another to be king in his place? Have we placed on the throne of our hearts a tyrant, another particular person or thing? In that way, have we preferred King Herod over Jesus Christ? Has our homage been to our work, our money, or the latest technology? Have we adored our reputation, our appetites, or our passions? Have we bowed down before our anger, our jealousy, or our laziness? So many things, people, and spirits are masquerading as our king, vying for our devotion.

The more we choose Christ as our King, the easier it will be to recognize him, and to choose rightly every time. It is similar to the way inspectors can tell when a dollar bill is counterfeit. The best inspectors know the real bills because they have handled the them by the hundreds. Hundreds of real bills, one by one, have passed through their hands until they almost know by instinct which one is a fake. The more we choose Christ, the easier it will be to recognize when a fake presents itself.

Let us choose Him again today. After all, the kingdom of God is already present in a real but incomplete way in the presence of the Church. He has “made us into a kingdom,” St. John proclaims from the Book of Revelation. We are the priestly people of his kingdom, priests for God our Father, who offer sacrifice and prayer to the Father on behalf of our brothers and sisters, each in our own way. When Christ alone reigns in our hearts, when we choose him as our king before any other person or thing, then… in a sense… we make his kingdom more recognizable to Him, when He comes again. Perhaps by our way of life, it will be easier for him to say, “Aha! That’s my kingdom, those are my people. Come, sit at my right, your foes I will put beneath your feet.”

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