The readings today on this Feast of Christ the King evoke three images of Christ as King. All of them are to some extent paradoxical, for they emphasize things about a king that we don’t usually think of in relation to a king. They also tell us that we have already met King Jesus, even if we didn’t know it. Let’s look at these three images of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of all Creation.
I. Caring King – The first reading, from Ezekiel 34, speaks of the Lord in terms of a shepherd who cares for his flock. Some of the lines that summarize His care are, I myself will look after and tend my sheep … I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark … I myself will give them rest … The lost I will seek out … The strayed I will bring back … The injured I will bind up. The sick I will heal.
It is not usual for us in the modern world to think of kings and heads of state in such a caring role. Most world leaders today are wholly inaccessible to us, existing behind many layers of security and staff. Even many bishops of larger dioceses are hard to reach personally.
But Jesus is a King who is more present to us than even we are to ourselves. An old revival hymn says, “Jesus is on the Main Line … call him up and tell him what you want.” Another song says, “God is just one prayer away.”
It was more common and less paradoxical in the ancient world to speak of a caring king. Most kings had more immediate contact with their subjects. Many kings had certain days on which their subjects could line up to talk to them. It is said that St. Athanasius ran up to the emperor on his horse one day, grabbed the reins, and proceeded to debate a theological point with him. Even until relatively recently, US presidents had office hours. It is said that on Tuesdays, Abraham Lincoln received visitors from among the citizenry, who sought to speak to him of their concerns. They would line up at the door without formal appointments and he’d listen to them, one by one. As our culture has become more violent and public figures more widely recognized and vulnerable, leaders now tend to live in sealed, bulletproof, and figuratively soundproof worlds, hearing little from “ordinary people” and mainly from their staff.
So the idea of a king who personally cares for his people is paradoxical to us. But Jesus does care for His people.
I want to testify that I do indeed have a caring King, Jesus. He’s been good to me. He has led me, rescued me, purified me, fed me, instructed me, and graced me; He died for me.
And I also want to testify that He was being good to me even when I didn’t think He was being good to me. Scripture says, All things work together for good to them who love and trust the Lord (Rom 8:28). Notice that not just the “good things” work for my benefit, but even the bad things. God sometimes permits some “stuff” to happen because it will bless us in the end. Even if you’re suffering, don’t give up on God. Some of His gifts come in strange packages. St Paul says, For this affliction is producing for us a weight of glory beyond compare (2 Cor 4:17).
And did you notice the last line in the passage from Ezekiel? But the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly. Yes, even at those times when I needed to be humbled (to have my pride destroyed) the Lord was shepherding me rightly. There was a time in my life when I was more sleek and strong. And the Lord let me experience some humiliation, destroying me, as it were, and giving me humility. I even see this humiliation physically, for I was once sleek and now I am fat. And it is humbling to be fat, especially when people scold me. They think it is easy to lose weight. But God will humble them too, perhaps in other ways. God hates pride; He just can’t stand it. This is because He knows how deadly it is to us.
Yes, God is a caring King. Some of His ways are paradoxical. Do not reduce the noun “care” merely to meaning “that which comforts and consoles.” It can be that, but not always! Sometimes the “caring” thing to do is to rebuke, warn, or even punish. But God never ceases to care for us. I’m a witness. He’s been good to me. Even when I didn’t think He was being good, He was being good.
II. Conquering King – The second reading speaks of the victory of Jesus over all things, saying that He has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep; that He has reversed what Adam did; that He is the first fruits, then each one in proper order will also rise. It says that He will hand the kingdom over to God his Father when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power and that he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, the last enemy to be destroyed being death.
Here, too, there is a great paradox. For as Hebrews says, In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death (Heb 2:8-10).
So while at times it seems that evil triumphs, God is working. One by one, He is putting all His enemies under His feet. One day even death itself will be destroyed. The paradox of the Cross shouts to us that God conquers, not by brutality and cruel strength, but by love and by things such as forgiveness and mercy—things the world dismisses as weak.
Here, too, I want to say that God is a conquering King in my life. He has destroyed the power of many sins and diminished the strength of others on the way to their ultimate destruction. I have seen sins put down and under His feet, as He cleanses the temple of my soul. He has conquered so much of my pride. I am seeing lust, greed, anger, sloth, envy, and fear on the ropes. One by one, He is diminishing their power and replacing them with greater love, compassion, kindness, purity, love for the truth, prayerfulness, courage, trust, and eagerness to do good and to win souls.
Thank you, Lord, for being a conquering King in my life.
And this conquering King, unlike worldly kings, does not force us to be His subjects and live in His kingdom. Earthly kings conquer regions and force peoples under their rule by might. But Jesus is a King who respects our freedom to decide whether to have Him as our King and to accept the virtues of His kingdom, or not. Hence Hell is not so much a place of punishment as it is a place to which those who refuse, those who say “no” to Christ and His kingdom, depart. This King, though He is all powerful, does not force His kingship and laws. He offers them to all, and each of us must decide.
III. Concealed King – The Gospel teaches us that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. And in this coming we will discover that we have known Him all along, but in a paradoxical way. As Christ comes and takes His seat and all are summoned to Him, we are going to have a strange sense that we’ve met Him before. And He will confirm that.
For indeed, we have met His Majesty and He is the strangest King of all. He is a King who is hungry, thirsty, sick, lonely, a foreigner, in prison, and a stranger. And the list He gives should not be seen as exhaustive, for He is in the needy, whether rich or poor. He is in the discouraged loved one who cannot find a job; He is in our children who need to be taught and encouraged; he is in the co-worker who just lost his wife; he is in the customer who was diagnosed with cancer. He is in the lost youth or family member who needs instruction and needs to be drawn back to the Sacraments. He’s even in you, in your struggles and needs.
Yes, we have met this King every day. And He is not merely saying that these people have some moral union with Him. He is saying, mystically, that He IS each one of them. And when we cared for them, we were not simply doing something ethical; we were serving and caring for Him: “You did it for me.”
What a strange King! We think of kings in palaces, far removed from trouble. But this King is naked, poor, hungry, and thirsty. We walk past Him every day.
And to those who have cared for Him in His poor He says, “I will never forget what you have done.” The poor may not be able to repay us, but King Jesus will repay us a millionfold. And on the day of our judgment we will look at Jesus and say, “I know you! I recognize you!” And He will say, “I know you, too … come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
We should not view this judgment scene as containing the only standards by which we are to be judged, for numerous other passages lay out other standards such as having faith, being willing to carry our cross, living in purity, forgiving others, loving our enemy, and so forth. But this passage DOES remind us that we are not to neglect the corporal works of mercy.
Yes, Jesus our King, the strangest King you will ever meet: a caring and close King, a conquering King who never forces, a King who is hungry and thirsty, a King who reigns from the Cross, a King who dies so we don’t have to, a King who washes our feet, a King who comes to serve rather than to be served. He is a King, all right, one who rules with love, not by force. He’s the strangest King you’ve ever met, and you meet Him every day: in the Eucharist, in the poor, in His Word, in your heart, in the events of your day … in your very self.
17 Replies to “The Strangest of Kings! A Homily for the Feast of Christ the King”
Awesome message in the exhortation and the song ! Ride on King Jesus!!!
Great article. Thank-you.
Today we honor both a true king and sheperd.
And before I forget, God Bless and a good and blessed Happy Thanksgiving to you!
“God hates pride; ….” I hope you devote some time to this topic during Advent and Lent.
This is simply beautiful. A glorious tribute to our King and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Over the past 24 hours, due to things best left unsaid, i will only affirm every line you have written and humbly say: Thank You Jesus for being SUCH a King.
Does anyone know who did that painting of Jesus with all those faces in the painting? My mind draws a blank. Thank-you and God Bless.
Quick answer. Yes.
Mass at a different parish this afternoon. How wonderful to praise His Majesty with different parishoners. Made me feel part of a larger family of God. Needed this new perspective, to start fresh yet again this Advent, pondering on how I behaved this year towards my neighbors and how to make amends. I ask forgiveness from all, most especially my Lord.
As we begin to anticipate His coming, let us come and worship Him, our shepherd, saviour, and king.
Saints Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal, Amato Ronconi, Giovanni Antonio Farina, Nicola da Longobardi, and Ludovico da Casoria, pray for us.
Great homily, Monsignor! This reminds me of the times I read about St. John Paul II as being “too sick to be a church leader”, and then hearing the words “Santo, Santo” the day he died. The irony of it all….
Good Homily 🙂
5 cents food counsel – lol’s 🙂
If you want to lose weight —- do away with all soda — may lose 12lbs in one year.
— do away with High Fructose Corn Syrup — is in like everything, get more natural/health food stuff (condiments)
— do away with all oils except Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil (and maybe Palm oil) — even the ones in food — (avoid junk food/processed food)
– 45 grams a sugar a day for men (above 1-3 Fruits a day)
– 30 grams a sugar a day for women (above 1-3 Fruits a day)
— do away with regular table salt: Get Redmond’s Real Salt from Redmond Utah — or Himalayan Pink Salt.
— try to eat organic fruits/vegetables (regular = pesticide/chemicals)
— Grass Fed Beef = Best
— Eat Cereal not at all or very minimally —
— Best Bread: http://www.foodforlife.com/ —– Target has good bread in bakery section it may be: Silver HIlls?
Cereal is not good for teeth at all it may be — may be like #1 bad thing for teeth.
— High Fructose Corn Syrup is not good — 90% goes to your liver it may be and gets converted to fat it may be.
only 10% of Alcohol may go to the liver — High Fructose Corn Syrup not good.
The Entire Health Industry is a mess. The FDA may be ????
A lot of people are getting cancer and heart situations — because of the food/diet.
oh man, the above posted before I was done writing/editing:
Sugar is really bad.
Sugar is what is causing Cancer it may be, along with pesticides on fruits/vegs, it may be too.
Everything is crazy, fluoride toothpaste — (tea tree oil toothpaste good stuff) — regular deodorant may be? with chemicals (arm and hammer deodorant may be something to check out)
Beef Liver is good, (maybe once or twice a week)
Good Fat = Good, Hamburgers (100% Beef) — Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kerry Gold Butter = Good
All the health food stuff in the Supermarkets is junk —- you need fat, good fat (hamburgers/steak) —- Sugar is what causes fat and like cancer.
This may be a real good article: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/07/saturated-fat-cholesterol-heart-disease.aspx
Bad foods may cause inflammation = heart situations — (foods with a lot of ingredients)
http://www.mercola.com —- good site 🙂
Best to shop in the supermarket in the perimeters, all the stuff in the middle isles = processed junk food. — be careful of nitrates in lunchmeat.
AVOID ALL SOY — is in like everything too — if it says less than 2% soy, you can probably get away with it.
Fermented Soy is good for you but regular soy = phytates
Phytates block vitamins and minerals it may be (to like teeth)
too much sugar too, may reverse the bloodstream drawing out vitamins/minerals from teeth.
(had a tooth situation — so learned some stuff not that long ago)
place for good Sugar: http://wholesomesweeteners.com/Products/product-detail/PId/8/Organic-Sucanat
This may be a good article: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/31/trans-fat-saturated-fat.aspx
This may be a Blessing to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCPSv_LXHVM
Have fun with food with the Holidays 🙂
cereal (phytates) — regular breads too
The bread today is not fermented, they cook the bread fast, (phytates still present) not healthy —- cereal is not good in that they extrude the wheat or something.
cereals may be almost toxic, because the grains are not processed right or something.
Good cereal at: http://www.foodforlife.com (Sprouted or fermented bread/grains good)
Good to stay alive as long as possible to do God’s work 🙂 http://www.naturalnews.com/039970_cancer_junk_food_carcinogens.html
Whole foods (i.e. chicken) are the best — 1 ingredient — (less ingredients the better)
Vitamin K2 is good in that it puts calcium where it needs to be — like out of arteries it may be.
(Feremented) Natto Soy/Goose Liver Pate/Maybe Beef Liver has Vitamin K2 — High Vitamin Butter Oil at: http://www.greenpastures.org — Has Vitamin K2 — good for teeth/maybe everything — recommend
Ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure —- wouldn’t go crazy though —-
(The wise are well informed)
Had a serious tooth situation not that long ago, did a lot of learning with Food — needed a root canal — would of cost maybe a lot of money. —- Healed myself with a better diet it may of been — who’s ever heard of anyone getting out of a root canal??? http://www.curetoothdecay.com/ | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmxvWwYHma0
There are maybe 25 million root canals performed in the usa each year (teeth window to the body with health it may be) — The reason is the food is ?????
A person needs to be wise in choices with food so to say.
Shalom, Blessings, Much Kindness/Love
(should of put above — the reason is the food may be??) or some food may be??
(just read that maybe 40% of people will be diagnosed with Cancer in their life-time) it’s good to know health stuff:
Proverbs: The Wise take precautions (are prudent)…
— Eternal Life is the Way, but it’s good to be informed, to do God’s work as long as possible 🙂
Jesus Return though is Possibly Nearing Fast !!!!! 🙂
— U.S. Nearing $18 Trillion in Debt
— 34 States it may be for Gay Marriage !!!!!!! Montana the newest State it may be. —- Jesus Return like the Days of Lot.
Maranatha, victor 🙂
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