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11/22/15 OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE - DEACON RON

Homily for

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Deacon Ron Landry

 

            In today's culture, we are surrounded by an ever-increasingly secular world. This is the final Sunday of Ordinary time; Advent is about to begin. This time of supposed spiritual preparation for the birth of the Savior of the world—the King of kings—will be anything but for most of society as we lurch into the material holiday chaos leading up to what is one of the high holy days of our faith.

            The stores that depend on the gift-giving frenzy that Christmas has become have purged their establishments and advertisements of the apparently offensive expression "Merry Christmas" and have replaced it with the 'politically correct' "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays." It is no small irony that this takes place in a country that is mostly Christian.

            Throughout the year, we are constantly assaulted by one item after another in the media about yet another attempt at ridding our society of any mention of God. A nation that once prided itself as a bastion of religious freedom has become a haven for freedom from religion.

The Feast of Christ the King was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was declining. Pope Pius XI intended the institution of the feast to have significant results: (1) that nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state. (2) that leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Jesus Christ. And that (3) the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies.

We recall that the ancient Jews eagerly anticipated the "Messiah". The Jewish word messiah, and the Greek word Christ, both mean "anointed one," and came to refer to the king the Jews expected to deliver Israel from the hands of the Romans. Unlike the messiah most Jews expected, Jesus was born under the most humble of circumstances, and grew up to begin a ministry to free all people, Jew and Gentile alike, and not from the Romans, but from sin and spiritual death.

            In 1969 Pope Paul VI gave this celebration a new title: "Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe". He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year, before a new year begins with the First Sunday in Advent. In addition, Paul VI assigned to the feast the highest rank, that of Solemnity.

            This underscores the theological significance of the holy day for which the Church is about to prepare. In effect, it sets the tone for Advent. In our highly materialistic culture, it is a time to turn our focus on the coming of the King of kings and his spiritual kingdom. No small feat in the chaos leading up to Christmas.

 Throughout his ministry, the King of the Universe emphasized a life of humble obedience, of self-sacrifice. As St. Paul expressed it: "Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."

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