34th Sunday OTC : Christ the King
II Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23: 35-43
A king’s son from the Middle East goes to Germany to study. A month later, he sends a letter to his dad saying: “Berlin is wonderful, people are nice and I really like it here, but I’m a bit ashamed to arrive at school in my Mercedes SLR McLaren, when all my teachers travel by train.” Sometime later he gets a letter from his dad with a ten million dollar check saying: “Stop embarrassing us, go and get yourself a train too!”
Dear friends! As usual on the last Sunday of the liturgical year we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The feast of Christ the King was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. The Jews, by and large, couldn’t picture Jesus as their Messiah and King and they didn’t think it was funny when the Apostles preached that he was. The Jews thought they knew what the Messiah was supposed to be: a glorious military and political leader, an idealized kind of King David who would overcome all their enemies, restore the kingship to Israel and initiate a reign of peace and prosperity. They could not conceive of Jesus, a convicted criminal, crucified and hanging on a cross, as their Messiah. Pilate might have thought it some kind of a twisted joke that would embarrass the Jewish people to put a sign above Jesus’ head, which said he was the King of the Jews.
Jesus tried to tell them that his kingdom would be different from any kingdom they had ever known: “My kingdom is not of this world.” Perhaps some of them could see how different his kingdom would be when they challenged him to save himself and he didn’t. They knew of his amazing powers, but he chose not to use them to save himself. Instead he was willing to suffer extraordinary pain and humiliation to save us. Jesus Christ is not only the “King of the Jews,” as Pilate wrote on the cross, but also the King of Kings. And he is the King of Kings for two reasons: first, because of who he is; and second, because of what he did.
Some years ago divers located a 400-year-old sunken ship off the coast of Northern Ireland. Among the treasures they found on the ship was man’s wedding ring. When they cleaned it up, they noticed that it had an inscription on it. Etched on the wide band was hand holding a heart. And under the etching were these words: “I have nothing more to give you.” Of all the treasures found on that sunken ship, none moved the divers more than the ring and its beautiful inscription.
The etching on that ring and its inscription – “I have nothing more to give you” – could have been placed on the cross of Jesus. For on the cross, Jesus gave us everything he had. He gave us his love; he gave us his life; He gave us all that one person can give to another. “No one has greater love than this,” Jesus said, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jn 15:13
I am always impressed when I think of what Jesus did in three years. Moses labored for 40 years, Buddha 45 years, and Muhammad 23. The carpenter on the cross, with the sign above his head, Jesus Christ, king of the Jews, who came from a politically and religiously insignificant part of an insignificant country, influenced this world more than any human being that ever lived. After two thousand years a billion people, including ourselves, call him our king! Jesus is a king who does not parade around in worldly glory or demonstrate worldly power. However, he is greater than any king who ever lived, for he is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
In April 1865, the slain body of Abraham Lincoln lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio. It was on its final journey from the nation’s capital to Springfield, Illinois. In the long line of people filing by body was a poor black woman and her little son. When the two reached the president’s body, the woman lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. That man died for you.” What that black mother said to her child can be said about Jesus by every mother of every child. Pointing to the body of Jesus on the crucifix, she can say: “Honey, take a long, long look. That man died for you.”
On this feast day of Christ the King, it is not enough for us to look at Jesus carrying his cross and to proclaim him to be our king. It’s not enough for us to bow our heads and call him Lord of Lords. It’s not enough for us to praise him on this feast day.
We must pick up our own cross and follow him. We must follow him every day of our lives. We must follow even to the cross itself, if that be His will. And if we do, He will say to us before we die what he said to the good thief before he died: “Amen. I say to you, today you will be with me I Paradise.”