By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Homily for Solemnity of Christ the King - on the Gospel
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Reigning with Christ the King

2 Samuel 5:1-3 Colossians 1:12-20 Luke 23:35-43

A boy was not doing too well in public school. So his parents got him into a Catholic school to see if he would improve. Immediately the boy stopped watching TV and playing computer games and spent all his time in studies. At the end of the year he was the best student in class. His baffled parents asked him what happened. “The first day I went to school,” he explained, “and saw that man hanging up on the cross, I knew you couldn’t fool around here.”

The sight of the crucified Christ might have spurred our young man to success, but the crucifixion, humanly speaking, depicts failure. It signals a brutal and disappointing end to the life and work of Jesus. When Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) his God did not take him down from the cross. When he cried, “Eli, Eli,” and the bystanders waited to see if Elijah was coming to save him, nothing happened. One of the thieves crucified with him even challenged him, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”(Luke 23:39) and he was still hanging there. By every observable, measurable, human standard, the crucifixion was a disappointing end for Jesus whom we acclaim today to be our King.

But Jesus has said that his kingdom is not of this world. By this he means to say not simply that his kingdom is not localized in this world but that the ways and standards of his kingdom are not the ways and standards of the world around us. One of the first people to appreciate this mystery is the repentant thief on the cross about whom we read in today’s gospel. Choking with the pains of crucifixion and imminent death, he turns and says to Jesus, his fellow convict hanging on the next cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Unlike the third convict who asks to be delivered from the cross, this holy criminal knows that success in God’s kingdom is measured by a different set of standards. He knows that to get into the kingdom of Christ one has to be saved not from the cross but on the cross.

How often we, followers of the Crucified, make the mistake of the unrepentant thief, of seeking to vindicate ourselves by a show of power, wealth or connection!

A certain knight dragged himself back to the king’s court after a narrow escape from a wearisome campaign. The king ran out to meet him. “What is wrong, Sir Erasmus?” asked the king. “My Lord, the king,” answered the knight, “I have been out fighting your enemies to death.” “Which enemies?” asked the king. “Your enemies on the western border,” replied the knight. “But,” countered the king, “I have no enemies on the western border.” “Well,” replied the disillusioned knight, “now you do.” In his zeal for the king, the knight has been going about sowing seeds of enmity and discord in the kingdom whose peace and harmony he was supposed to safeguard.

Aren’t we often, like this knight, so different from our King? As soldiers of Christ when shall we learn to fight with the same weapons used by our Master? What weapons did Jesus use to wage the spiritual war of the kingdom of God? He used the weapons of Truth and Love. The truth of the word of God is a sharp sword against all the forces of the enemies of the kingdom. Salome, the mother of James and John wanted to add her financial power to propagate Jesus’ teaching. Jesus turned it down. The people wanted to make Jesus king and so to prop up the power of his words with the power of royalty. Jesus ran away from them. The sword of the word of God, wielded with love and meekness as Jesus did is all that we need to spread the kingdom of Christ on earth.

As we celebrate the kingship of Christ today, Jesus invites us as he did 2000 years ago: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Today is the day to ask ourselves how far we have responded, as individuals and as a community, to this invitation to cultivate the mind of Christ in our dealings with one another, especially in our dealings with those we perceive to be different from us. This is the way to show in our daily lives that Jesus Christ in indeed our king: by cultivating and living out in our lives the gentle and humble mind of Christ. And so, let us conclude with a prayer: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine.

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