Homily, Christ the King A
A long time ago, there was a young man who grew up in a small house, in a small town, in a small country, but he had big dreams of ruling the entire world someday. He knew the Scriptures, and he was convinced that he would be the one to fulfill the prophecies. He would have a kingdom that would stretch from sea to sea. And not only that, but his reign would never end; he would sit as king from age to age, ruling every place, every people and nation, for all time. And how would he realize this lofty dream of his? For almost thirty years, he worked and sweat and practiced… carpentry. With his father in their workshop, he built tables and furniture. For bigger projects they would work on houses and roads. But still, beyond a small circle of friends and family, and those who hired him as a carpenter, this man was largely unknown, and he probably seemed rather unremarkable.
When it came time for him to strike out on his own, he began to travel to the other small towns in the area. He told people about the kingdom of God. He healed the sick, drove out demons, pronounced forgiveness of sins and new life to the most notorious sinners, and he raised people from the dead. As you can well imagine, this was a much more effective campaign strategy than his many years of carpentry. He traveled the country like this for almost three years, and people flocked to see him.
But every time they tried to make him king, he would slip away and move on to the next towns. In fact, the only time he admitted to being a king was when he stood bound as a criminal, on trial for rebellion, accused by the leaders of his own nation. For this, he was put to a most shameful death, publicly, with the charge written in three languages above his head, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Humanly speaking, his name should have been forgotten, buried in the shame of his crucifixion.
But God’s ways are not our ways. This Man who lived most of His earthly life in obscurity and came to His end in the greatest shame is the One that we proclaim today as our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to establish the Kingdom of God in our midst, but He also said that His kingdom is not of this world. God’s ways are not our ways. Even in today’s Gospel, when the Son of Man comes in all His glory, and all His angels with Him, and He sits upon His glorious throne with all the nations assembled before Him, He comes as a Shepherd to tend his sheep.
Not exactly what most of us would expect from an almighty king. But God’s ways are not our ways. He has no police to enforce His royal decrees. He has no armies to expand the borders of His kingdom. Instead, Jesus still conquers in the same way as He did during His earthly life, by conquering human hearts, by feeding the hungry and giving the thirsty something to drink, by welcoming the stranger and clothing the naked, by caring for the sick and for those in prison, and by inviting us into the truth. This is how Christ conquers and how He has always conquered.
And this is how He wants to conquer our hearts today. He gives us His own Body and Blood in this Eucharist to satisfy every hunger and thirst of our souls. He welcomes even the strangest of us into His own family through Baptism and Confirmation, and gives us a lasting home in heaven. He clothes us in His own innocence and destroys the shame of our sins in every Confession. Through His holy anointing, He unites all our illnesses and sufferings to His own perfect prayer, and through the words of His Gospel, he brings true freedom even into the prison cell. May Christ the King gain ground in us each day, so that God’s ways may become our ways.
As we surrender to his love and become part of His kingdom, we, too, are called to do what He does for the least of His brothers and sisters. But we cannot give what we have not received. We cannot love those that Christ is calling us to love, we cannot feed, welcome, clothe, and care for our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, our neighbors, our enemies, and the poorest of the poor, unless we first allow Jesus to do this for us, so that He can then do this through us. What a privilege, what a calling we have in Christ Jesus to do for Him in the least of his brothers and sisters what He first does for us. We are all missionaries of Christ the King, called to spread the kingdom of God by conquering human hearts through concrete acts of love and mercy. May God grant us the grace today to surrender to Christ the King, to open our hearts to receive His truth and love. In the end, when all other kingdoms have come and gone, Christ alone will be victorious, and those who have surrendered to His love will reign with Him forever.
An Act of Dedication of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
(to be renewed annually on the Solemnity of Christ the King)
Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thine Altar. We are Thine, and Thine we wish to be; but to be more surely united to Thee, behold, each one of us this day freely dedicates himself to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts, have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal sons who have abandoned Thee; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they perish of wretchedness and hunger.
Be Thou King of those whom heresy holds in error or discord keeps aloof; call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one fold and one Shepherd.
Be Thou King of all those who even now sit in the shadow of idolatry or Islam, and refuse not Thou to bring them into the light of Thy kingdom. Look, finally, with eyes of pity upon the children of that race, which was for so long a time Thy chosen people; and let Thy Blood, which was once invoked upon them in vengeance, now descend upon them also in a cleansing flood of redemption and eternal life.
Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; unto all nations give an ordered tranquility; bring it to pass that from pole to pole the earth may resound with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.