Christ the King - homily
Who is the greatest king? We can look back through history to see great kings who have reigned during different genres and times. I’ll throw out a few examples…the King of…Pop (Michael Jackson)! The King of Swat (Babe Ruth). Of course, the King, himself (Elvis Presley). Even fast food has a king- Burger King! This one might reign supreme because I was reading an article that said the average American purchases fast food sixteen days a month. Home of the Whopper! Anyway, in the United States, we have unofficial kings; other countries have official kings who we read about and have studied.
When does Christ become a king? It’s not at birth – he is born in a stable, in a manger. He’s not a king growing up – he lives a very poor life. It’s not until his final hours that he is treated as a king; and this was done in mocking fashion. He is sarcastically called, “King of the Jews”. His throne is a cross. His crown is made out of thorns. And yet, this is where Christ actually begins his kingship. St Paul reminds us that is through the “blood of the cross” that Christ brings about our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, thus making him our King.
When we are talking about kings, we are talking about power. If we add up all of the power of all of the kings who have ever lived – official and unofficial – it still doesn’t add up to the power of Christ. No king has the power Christ has: power over death. Power over sin. He is King of the Universe, King of the living and the dead. He is the King of Kings. He has power over all things. He uses his power for us, not against us.
An example of this is from today’s Gospel. While the soldiers and religious leaders are mocking Jesus, they are acknowledging his power. They say to him three times, “save yourself”. These are similar to the three temptations of Satan in the desert. Jesus can save himself in the blink of an eye. But, he uses his power to save us, not himself.
Is Christ the king of our lives? Is there another person or thing who has power over or against us? For our young people, it might be popularity or acceptance. For the adults, it could be success or wealth. For all of us, it might be a bad habit that actually controls us. These things have power against us. Christ’s power is for us. We truly share in his power and kingship. In fact, anyone who is baptized in Christ is baptized as a king.
How do we approach Christ as King? Do we reject and mock him as king like the soldiers and Jewish leaders did? Or, do we believe in him as our king like the criminal next to him who said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”. If we show that same faith in Christ as our king, we will ultimately hear the same words from our Lord: “Today you will be with me in paradise”. This is a promise that he gives to no one else in the Gospel – not to any of the Apostles or disciples…not even his mother!
We hear almost the same thing from Christ in John 6:53 about the Eucharist. He says, “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”. As we receive our King today in Holy Communion – and those who receive in the hand are to make a throne for our king – let us hear him say to our hearts what he said to the criminal next to him: “today you will be with me in paradise”.