HOMILY

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Christ the King (B)                                                                 Jn 18:33-37

In the movie, “The Robe” Victor Mature plays a pagan, Roman slave Demetrius, one scene shows him pushing his way through the crowd during the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. When he gets close enough he locks gazes with Jesus, who gives the slave an unexplainable feeling. Immediately he feels compelled to follow Jesus. In a later scene,  a fellow slave asks Demetrius “Did you see him – close up?” Demetrius nods. “Is he a General?” Demetrius emphatically says “No”. “Is he a King! “A King,” mutters Demetrius, “not a king.” “What is he then?” Demands his friend. “ I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “ but he is something much more than a king, I cannot explain.” 

In most of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, especially the books of Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel, the Christ, the Messiah is represented as a king. The “Kingdom of God” in fact, is the center of the teaching of Jesus. In the gospels Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God ninety times, and the term is used many times by his disciples. St. John Paul II thought it so important he made it one of the Luminous mysteries of the rosary. But the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin accuse Jesus of blasphemy because he claims to be God. But that is not a crime to a Roman since all their mythological gods take the form of men or women. So, in order to get the punishment they desire in their hatred, they accuse him of the crime that he claimed to be king of the Jews which brings him in competition with Caesar, which is a crime punishable by death. 

Today’s gospel presents the first part of the trial conducted by the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate who questions Jesus about His kingship. We have here one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament, in which an arrogant Pilate learns that Jesus is a king, but, ironically, not the kind he can deal with. Jesus admits that He is a king but declares that His kingdom is not of this world. When Jesus says that His kingdom is not “of this world,” He does not mean that it is not “in this world.”  As true Christians we are to be “in the world” but not “of the world.” Christ’s present and future reign does not operate according to the world’s criteria of power and dominance.  His kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes and He rules through service of others rather than through domination of them. His authority is rooted in truth, not physical force. Jesus also claims that He has come to bear witness to the truth about a larger and eternal kingdom. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth, about God and His love, about us and about who we are called to be.  

Today’s feast of Christ the King reminds us of the great truth that Christ must be in charge of our lives, that we must give Him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will.  In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who believes in His kingdom is the one who prays, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Let us ask ourselves the question, "What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?"  Are we praying each day that He will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus? Does our daily life come under the Kingship of Jesus?  Or do we try to please ourselves rather than him? Are we embarrassed to proclaim his Kingdom to our daily world? 

The truth Jesus teaches us is: that God His Father, is also our loving and forgiving Father, we are all his children forming one body.  Therefore, whatever we do for his children, our sisters and brothers, we do for him.  We are called to be a people who reach out to embrace the enemy and the stranger, a people called to glory, a people who will endlessly forgive, a people who will reach out in compassion to the poor and the homeless, a people who will support one another in prayer, a people who realize that we are called not to be served, but to serve. In other words, servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has given us.

You may have seen the bumper sticker on some cars that say “Jesus is my co-pilot.” My friends, “If Jesus is your co-pilot, — you better change seats.”

 


Ext meeting © JOSEPH MEILINGER 2021