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11/20/16 Christ the King - Fr. James

The Feast of Christ the King was added in liturgical calendar as a reaction against the growing attitude in the society that sought to make man, not God, the most powerful force in the world. Though those threats have been replaced by other challenges this feast still meaningful.

 

Both Jews and Romans were confused about the kingship of Jesus. They had heard Jesus referred to as a king, and they were anxious that he himself might attempt to take their own authority. When the wise men asked Herod: "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?", "King Herod became greatly disturbed". Jesus is a servant king – a king who gave everything for us.

 

This feast challenges us to ask, “Who – or WHAT — really rules our lives?” When we pray “Thy kingdom come” we pray for a kingdom of peace and justice, for a kingdom of sacrificial love. In his kingdom, the honor is not considered on how much you have or how much you control…but in how much you give up. It is a place where we are called to love, and to give, until there is nothing left. It is where pure love reigns. And it is in that kingdom where the “good thief” wants to dwell. The values in Jesus’ kingdom are service and humility. If we want to be great we must be like children.

 

In today’s gospel passage, Christ isn’t called “rabbi” or “teacher.” In the last moments of his life, someone finally calls Him, simply “Jesus.” The man hanging beside our Lord speaks to Him as a brother, as a friend. “Jesus,” he says to Him, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Those words are our words – the plea of anyone who has ever felt abandoned, or lonely, desperate or afraid. We pray that God doesn’t forget us. Jesus answers that simple prayer: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

 

This is what the feast of today invites us to: to surrender ourselves to the loving reign of God, to make a choice to be part of the Kingdom of God, to be free from the tyranny of power, possession and pleasure.

 

Next week we begin a new year with the first Sunday of Advent. This is the perfect time to reflect on who really is the Lord of our life. Who is the King we choose to follow? This week marks a new beginning, a new opportunity to recommit ourselves and to welcome his return into our hearts and homes. He promises us paradise if only we respond to his call: Follow me.

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