St Francis Q&A

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Solemnity of Christ the King - homily

One of my favorite groups in the parish is the RCIA group which is made up of adults who are in the process of becoming Catholic. They are filled with great interest and passion about the Catholic faith. It is always so inspiring to be around people who have zeal for living the Catholic faith. A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question to the group which is pertinent to today’s feast of Christ the King. I asked, “if Jesus is a king, why didn’t He live as a king on earth, with a royal throne and power and riches?”

The group responded with some interesting and insightful answers. They said that if Jesus lived as a king with a royal throne that that would contradict so much of his message which is caring for and being in union with the poor. So much of what they said was right on the money, but I was looking for a more general answer. I think the answer has to do with faith. If Jesus lived as a king in glory in this life, then we would see him as king. It wouldn’t take faith to believe in Him if we could see him in all his glory in this life. As Christians, we walk by faith, not by sight.

Jesus doesn’t fully reveal himself to us in this life but he does give us enough reason to believe in him. The main evidence that Christ is King is the resurrection. In fact, he reveals himself as king in the resurrection. Today’s second reading is focused on the point that Christ reigns over all things, even death. His reign as king begins with the resurrection.

Christ himself says that “my kingdom does not belong to this world” (Jn 18). His kingdom is in the next life, and it will last forever. He makes this clear in today’s Gospel when he speaks of his reign in the future: “when the Son of Man comes…he will sit upon his glorious throne”. He is not a worldly king; he is a king who comes into the world. He does not appear to be a king to the world – his throne is a cross, his crown is made of thorns, and his army is twelve men! In the least, Jesus is a mystery to the world. But, more than that, the world sees him as crazy…extreme…offensive. The things he said – like calling God “Father” – and the things he did – like forgiving sins. He may not have had the power of an earthly king, but he was a threat. He was – and continues to be - a threat to the world. That’s why the world killed him.

As followers of Christ the King, our kingdom is not in this world. He live in the world, but not of the world. If we are living our faith in Christ, then we have an experience similar to that of Jesus. In the least, we are a mystery to the world. But, more than that, the world sees us as crazy…extreme…offensive. The things we say – like when we defend life or marriage or faith – and the things we do – like going to Confession for the forgiveness of sins. If we don’t appear to the world at least as a mystery, then we aren’t being faithful to Christ the King. We walk by faith and not by sight; the world walks by sight and not by faith.

Finally, all of this comes together when we get to the Eucharist. It may be the greatest example of the world seeing us as crazy…worshiping what looks like a piece of bread! But, we believe our King when he says, “this is my body”. We believe that our king is present in the Eucharist. His kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven, is present on earth in the Eucharist. It is a preview to the eternal kingdom we will share in forever. We will not experience glory in this life, but in the life to come. We will reign with Christ our king in the eternal kingdom for ever.


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