Christ the King B Nov 25 - Homilies (1)


34 Christ the King B – November 25

History of Christ the King Sunday

This is actually a pretty new festival in the church year. Its roots go back only to the late 1800's, when the world's great empires--British, American, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese--were all at war or about to go to war somewhere.

The man who was the pope of the Roman Catholic Church at the time wrote a letter in which he dedicated the world to Christ the King. In the letter, he reminded the empires that God is present with the whole human race, even with those who do not know God.
After World War I, another pope designated the last Sunday in October as Christ the King Sunday, a day to remember that Christ received power and honor from God and was thereby made ruler of the universe. Eventually, Catholics moved Christ the King Sunday to the last Sunday of the church year, when they were already accustomed to reflecting on Christ's return at the end of time to rule over all creation, a theme which echoes throughout Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

David W. Miller, Reign of Truth


Thomas O'Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

Last January we began a cycle of readings from the gospels of Mark and John. We read them between January and Ash Wednesday, and then again from Pentecost until today: they have been laying before us one way of recounting the mystery of Jesus, our teacher, our brother, and our God. Now today we come to the end of this year-long recollection. Today we are thinking of Jesus, not as someone who came among us in the past, but as the King of all creation who will come again among us. When he comes at the end of time, he will gather all of us into his kingdom, and present that kingdom to the Father.’

Sean Goan

For the last gospel of the church’s year we return to John and this scene from the trial of Jesus before Pilate. Pilate represents the most powerful empire the world has ever known and lives out of a woridview that is utterly contrary to that espoused by Jesus. For Pilate, kings and kingship mean only one thing: a threat to the established order. For Jesus this is the language of the Bible where God is the shepherd king who looks out for the lost and bandages the wounded. For the worldly governor of Judea this is all a pipe dream; for Jesus it is a Vision that will endure long after the Roman Empire has crumbled into the dust. By his death and resurrection Jesus has witnessed to the truth about God and those who search for the truth still listen to his voice.

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Michel DeVerteuil

Textual Comments

In today's feast we celebrate Jesus under the title of King. These days, of course, we don't have too many kings around but we do have “leaders” - so today we can call him a “perfect leader”. He is the kind of leader we all want to be, the kind of leader we want for ourselves and for others.
We know that Jesus exercised a special kind of leadership. His example must therefore invite us to a deep reflection on how we exercise leadership. Is our way of exercising it true or false? How do other people do it? What is the true form of leadership as it is understood in the world of today? This is clearly the importance of this feast for us and for the world in which we live.
To help us in this meditation on leadership, the church invites us, in this year B, to reflect on St John's account of the confrontation between Jesus and Pilate. What we have here is only a short extract of a long and very wonderful scene. It is still long enough, however, for us to really enter into the extraordinary interplay between these two men.
It is a meeting between two people who know what kind of leadership they are about. We often find ourselves in this kind of situation today and so we can really meditate on it.
       - Jesus is the ideal we are all looking to be like;
       - Pilate represents the kind of leadership we are anxious to get away from.
We have played both parts at different times in our lives and  we must be able to see how we can fit into each; we will then  be able to measure how we are like them, and draw our conclusions. So this meditation will lead us to two things:
       - to make an act of thanksgiving for the times when we have exercised leadership as Jesus wants us to;
       - to make an act of humble repentance for the times when we have done it all wrong, when we have been more like Pilate than like Jesus.
We remember those who stood up proud and self-confident in the presence of rulers who were considered powerful in the eyes of the world but in fact were not. We think of people like
       - the great popes and saints of our church's history
       - the great women in the history of our church who have objected to the accepted ways of behaving and done wonderful things on their own;
       - people of different faith traditions who we know are among us today;
-    the many strong men and women in the world today.

Naturally Jesus himself is a powerful challenge to the church of our time - the universal church , and local church communities. He also reminds us of communities of people who in the face of very opposed values share a common faith, in themselves, and in the real values of the world they live in.
We need to go more deeply into this aspect of what Jesus claimed for himself. Note his total self-confidence. He says, “My kingdom is not of this kind”. It is a tremendous act of self-confidence. He is claiming his kingdom and declaring it to be different from that of Pilate. Let us learn to recognize how separate we are from many in our society.
Jesus in his nothingness was totally self-confident, while Pilate was afraid. This comes out more clearly in a later passage but we already see it here. Pilate was afraid, anxious to set Jesus free, but Jesus was not afraid. Jesus knew what kind of leadership he was offering and how different it was from that of Pilate. We too must be very conscious of what is special in our kind of leadership and how it separates us from the rest of humanity today. Often in our lives we are like Pilate. As we sit on our thrones and call people into our presence to pass judgment on them, it is they who question us. They ask us, are we speaking from the truth of ourselves or just mouthing what others have told us? Jesus knew what was happening in the world, how different his style was from that of other leaders. He chose it with no reference to what others said or taught.

Gospel: Jn 18:33-37

This scene from the passion is rich in irony: Jesus is about to prevail over sin and death, but he does so from the cross. Pilate who serves an earthly king, writes the truth — about which he could not care less — when he writes the title that is placed above the cross. However, here this reading serves not the agenda of its author within the passion narrative, but the needs of today’s liturgy.
There are three aspects to this liturgical reading of this gospel:

(1) Here Jesus accepts for himself the title of ‘king’.

But (2) declares that what this means in his case is not to be confused with an earthly king, nor his kingdom with an earthly kingdom (and so, incidentally, counters a basic notion of apocalyptic that the final establishment of divine justice will take effect within the terrestrial-historical order).
And (3) that as this unique kind of king, Jesus gathers all that is true to himself: ‘All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.’
As with the other readings, we begin with the picture of the mystery as we celebrate it under the heading of ‘Christ the King’ and then explore this in the gospel. An attempt to arrive at the feast by exegesis of the text would simply leave everyone thoroughly confused.

Reflection

We don’t know how many people witnessed the death of Jesus in Jerusalem. We know that some of those who did were delighted to have him out of the way at last. Others were heartbroken at the death of a truly good man and the shattering into pieces of a dream for something better, a new world order in which love and service would triumph over oppression and hatred. The majority probably just went about their business and reflected that really it is wiser just to keep your head down and say nothing. We can be sure that nobody there thought they were witnessing the death of Christ the Universal King. His kind of kingship has to be learned and not in palaces nor in schools of diplomacy but among the poor and needy and those whom the world has forgotten. For our king is the servant of the poor and we only belong to his court when we do likewise. 

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HOMILY NOTES

1. When we listen to the voices of those advocating concern for the environment, care for the planet, or care for the quality of human life, we hear certain themes recurring. We find these themes whether the promoters of these concerns are Christians (viewing the universe as a creation with a plan and providence within it) or theists (who see ecological concern as somehow a sacred activity) or people who ignore the sacred dimension as if it were irrelevant. 

2.Some of these themes are:

• The importance of recognising that humans can act constructively or destructively in the way we live.
• The importance of recycling: we must not behave as if anything can simply be used and thrown away as waste; we must see every object as having its own value.
• That we must recognise that everything we do as individuals or small groups becomes part of a larger pattern that can have far greater consequences.
• We must keep our eyes fixed on the longer-term picture: ‘Now’, ‘Today’ are such fleeing moments!

3. For us who believe that God is the creator, the beginning and end of all that is, seen and unseen, these four themes of ecologists are not simply ‘human wisdom’ but part of our whole understanding of this mystery of why we are here. And the imagery we use to express this very complex set of beliefs is that Jesus, the Anointed of the Father, is the King of All Creation. It is in him that all creation comes to its perfection, and then through him that it is presented to his Father.
4. On Holy Saturday night we welcomed the risen Christ by inscribing the Paschal Candle (that actual candle, now a worn down butt, can be a visual at this point) with these words:
Christ yesterday and today,
The beginning and the end
Alpha and Omega
All time belongs to him
And all the ages
To him be glory and power through every age forever.
5. We often think of God the Son at the beginning of the creation: as we say in the creed: he is ‘begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made’ and St John adds: ‘and without him was not anything made that was made.’ This is recognising Christ at the beginning, the Alpha of all.
6. Today we think of Christ as the end, the final point, the goal of all creation, the Omega of all.

7. And for us, this is the future of hope, not a great catastrophe, not a great crunch, but when all that is good and noble is brought to perfection. The figure of the Christ stands at the end of time like someone gathering the harvest, and then presenting it in its completed state to the Father.
8. So how do we Christians understand those four themes: The importance of recognising that humans can act constructively or destructively in the way we live.
Our actions are not simply random activity: we are called to act with justice and honesty, with care and respect, not from self-interest but because this is part of God’s loving plan. We want to be in harmony with nature, but we also want to be in harmony with the Love that brought nature into existence and which draws it towards its goal.
• The importance of recycling: we must not behave as if anything can simply be used and thrown away as waste; we must see every object as having its own value.
36.    Everything exists because of God’s loving will in giving it existence, and each thing has unique value because it is brought into being through the Son. To see anything as useless, waste, rubbish, is to ignore the Alpha of the creation and its Omega.
• That we must recognise that everything we do as individuals or small groups becomes part of a larger pattern that can have far greater consequences.
We recognise that we are called to behave responsibly as individuals and as groups. We know we must have an intimate relationship with God as individuals in prayer and action, but we must also have a group relationship with Christ as his body, the church. The Lord, who calls each of us by name, is also the Lord who calls us to become the kingdom, and it is that kingdom, embracing all creation, that is presented to the Father.
• We must keep our eyes fixed on the longer-term picture: ‘Now’, ‘Today’ are such fleeing moments!
40.    
Just as we must think long-term about the material universe — both forwards and backwards — if we are to act with understanding, so we have to remember the Alpha of the universe — that all comes into being through the Son — and its Omega — when the Son presents it to the Father — if we are to act wisely within God’s creation.
9. For us these are not bits of human wisdom, rather they are fragments of the divine plan that we can see around us and which point us to the incompleteness of any understanding of the universe that does not acknowledge it as a creation — a creation that comes from God and which returns to God, and which is suffused with the divine love through the presence of Christ, the Alpha and the Omega.

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Prayer Reflections

“Teach us to love as you did and to see others as you did."  Gandhi
Lord, remind us that the values of Jesus cannot be imposed.
It is never a matter of fighting battles,
with followers preventing their leaders being surrendered into the hands of their enemies.
Our kingdom is different, it is not of this kind.
 “The springs of war are in the invincible world and it is there that we must deal with it, remembering that those most responsible for its sins and horrors lie in the power of those who are our neighbours and they need our help."  Evelyn Underhill
Lord, give us the power which comes from knowing that we were born for a purpose.
We come into the world to bear witness to certain principles,
and therefore we don't have to worry about who approves or disapproves of them.
We know that those who are on the side of these principles
listen to our voice and will be touched by them.
Lord, nowadays anybody who has something to sell
spends a lot of time and money making it look good,
covering up whatever aspects are not attractive.
Forgive us that we try to do the same with the message of Jesus.
Remind us that like Jesus we have come into the world
to bear witness to the truth
and that whoever listens to the truth will listen to our voice.
“God has created me to do him some definite service.  I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next.”  Cardinal Newman
Lord, once we know that like Jesus we have come into the world for a purpose,
we need not be afraid of others,
even if they are governors and can summon us to enter into their praetorium.
“God communicates himself to all persons, redeems them and stamps their being with an orientation towards sharing his own life.”   Karl Rahner
Lord, we thank you that you have planted your truth
in the heart of every human being.
We know that we are followers of Jesus
when those who are on the side of truth recognize our voice.
"Lord, look through my eyes, speak through my lips, walk with my feet.
Then my poor human presence will be a reminder - however weak - of your divine presence."     Helder Camara
Lord, help us to walk with Jesus in our daily surroundings,
so that we may be sure that you are there to walk with us.
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ILLUSTRATIONS:

1. Background:

 It is fascinating to compare the vision of Daniel with the image of Jesus before Pilate. In both the Lord of Creation is depicted in a moment of triumph. Daniel has no sense of the paradox of that Lord being treated like a common criminal. 

 There was of course no reason why he should, though the author of the section of Isaiah dimly saw that reality. At the heart of the paradox, however, is the insight that Jesus is the Lord of Creation, the king who triumphs, the leader whom we follow precisely because he suffers with and for us and goes down with us into the valley of death. 

That’s why He is not only the Lord of creation but Our Lord too.

A new boy moved into the neighborhood just before he football season began. He was a little guy, thin and scrawny and clumsy. He went out for the football team and made a fool out of himself against the big kids. The coach, who had a kind heart, did not cut him from the team. However, he came home from every practice bruised and battered. Most of the kids made fun of him at school. However, he would not quit. He was quiet but he was also stubborn. One of the girls, who knew more about football than any of the boys and even the coach, kept muttering that the new kid was really quick. Fastest boy on the team she told everyone. No one, however, listened to her.

 Finally there came the season opener against the “next parish down the road” which almost always won the historic contest between these old rivals (well, it went back to 1975). The next parish was bigger and always had better football teams. This year was no exception. They held our heroes scoreless and with only five minutes left in the game our guys were down thirteen to nothing. Knowing that they would never catch up, Coach sent in our little friend to play safety. On the next play, the quarterback for “next parish” through a pass which was tipped by one of our lineman. The little guy dashed across the field, intercepted it and scampered towards the goal line. See, said the girl, I told you. (Which is what a girl would say). The other team caught up with him as he crossed the goal line,  knocked him to the ground, and piled all over him.

 At first he lay flat on the ground, Then his face covered with mud, one of his eyes black, he staggered to his feet. The coach called a two point conversion. The quarterback, no dummy either, saw our runt standing dazed behind him – the coach had forgot to take him out – and threw him a lateral. Our guy ran through the opposing team like a knife cuts threw butter. Again they piled all over him in the end zone, but the refs didn’t call any penalty. He was carried off the field. After his team got the ball back with only thirty seconds to play, the coach took a deep breath and sent him back in. The QB through him a screen pass and  . .  . . . well, you know the rest. After the game he was hailed as the new leader of the team. Like one of the big kids said, he’s earned it. He’s learned how to take the worst and still win.

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2. “Who’s on first?”

That was the opening line of a classic baseball sketch acted out in 1945 by the vaudeville comedy team of Abbott and Costello. The big joke was that the ball players’ last name were “Who” (first base), “What” (second base), “I Don’t Know” (third base), “Why” (left field), “Tomorrow” (pitcher) “Today” (catcher), etc. Any conversation about “Who was on first?” was a question that involved both identity and physical position. But for the person “in the know,” those who knew “Who” was the name of the first baseman, it was simply the affirmation of a fact. “Who” WAS, in fact, on first base.

Pontius Pilate, the local governor, a kind of “Chief of Police” for the Roman Empire in Jerusalem, was caught in a similar situation. The powerful members of the Sanhedrin (think your locally elected city council representatives) brought Pilate a prisoner, a man they accused of endangering Roman rule, by proclaiming himself to be some sort of ruler and so outside of Roman law. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of proclaiming himself “King.” Politically that was treason — a flagrant flaunting of Caesar’s rights and rule. To declare himself “King of the Jews” not only disregarded the ruling power of Rome. It provided potential fodder for the local rebellion and even violent, militant reactions of the Jewish population in Jerusalem and beyond.

But in today’s text Jesus puts forth a “Who’s on first” kind of question to Pilate…
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3. What Pilate Believes

In the NIV, the first part of v. 37 is a declaration by Pilate: "You are a king, then!" In the NRSV (and my Greek text) it is a question: "So you are a king?"

In some ways, this is another wrong question. Jesus turns it around: "You are saying that I am a king." With that statement is Jesus again putting Pilate on trial: "You have said it, but is it what you believe?"

Here is a story that illustrates what is going on in this dialogue between Jesus and Pilate:
An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved, and whether he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior?

The gentleman replied, "Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here are the names of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I've been saved."

Jesus could tell Pilate anything. What is important is what Pilate believes.

Brian Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes
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4. Ordinary People
 In the story of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus we do not have a rascally, villainous cast of characters. We have ordinary soldiers, policemen, officials, priests, magistrates, and citizens - all doing what soldiers, police, officials, priests, and zealous citizens do every day. It is the usual "morality play," with a suspected criminal, arresting officers, prosecutors, a trial, and sentencing. With the exception of Jesus, none of the actors appear to be sterling characters. They are ordinary human beings, with a fair measure of hypocrisy and callousness. But each carries out with fidelity the role that society has assigned to him or her.

"The fundamental reason why Jesus has to die makes the question of responsibility for his assassination pointless. Every society, Jewish or Gentile, that is founded on money, power, and law, condemns him. He puts people first, making economics and politics less important than men and women. In contrast, society, even when it says the opposite, deceiving others as well as itself, considers individuals simply as a means." (Sulivan, Morning Light, p. 75)

John C. Purdy, God with a Human Face
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5. Part of the Ritual

The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king's foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king's forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know. The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual."
I am here to tell you that your king was stabbed in the foot . . . and the hand, and the side and the head and that WAS part of the ritual. And, you and I are the ones who held the staff. I ask you. Will you beg the King's forgiveness?

Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com
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6. Jesus Wins

George III of England, America's enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word "independence" without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned "Emperor of the New World." That's what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, "Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn't.

Jesus wins, Pilate loses.

William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart
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7. They Write Better Than They Know
 It is the accepted wisdom of priests and soldiers alike that one who possesses power always uses it for his own advantage. Why be a king if you cannot prove it by spectacular demonstrations of force and might? For Jesus these mocking words must bring back the echo of an earlier time when he is standing on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and hears the voice of the Tempter: "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here" (Luke 4:9). He resists such a temptation then, and resists it yet again. But the criminal evidently sees in Jesus' refusal to bend to the demands of his powerful tormentors an authority which is not compelled to prove itself. Is there a greater act of authority, courage, and dignity than to refuse to save oneself in order to save others? The criminal, with great effort, turns his head and looks again at the inscription on the central cross. "This is the King of the Jews." Perhaps he thinks, "They write better than they know."

J. Will Ormond, Good News among the Rubble, CSS Publishing
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8. Prose

What kind of a Kingdom has Jesus? No castle nor palace has he. No congress nor parliament sitting, deciding what laws there will be. Perhaps he has need of but two laws: Love God and your neighbor as well. To obey them is all that is needed, as all of the saintly can tell.
He has neither army nor navy, no air force to guard the frontiers to keep out the strangers unwanted and maintain the enemy’s fears. Immigration he seems to encourage, of some quite disreputable, like fishermen, publicans, sinners. To such he is hospitable.

It seems there’s no revenue service or taxes we must calculate. He surely cannot run a kingdom on what we put into the plate! No 1040 form comes in April to fill out before the fifteenth, with penalties charged for nonpayment, beginning upon the sixteenth.

No currency’s here with his picture, no coinage engraved with his name. And where are the posters and slogans proclaiming his power and fame? And I see no trappings of kingship, no robes made of velvet and fur, no crown made of gold set with diamonds, to befit our supreme arbiter.

Jesus said that his kingdom was really not what Pilate had thought it had been. It was not of this world. And its glory was not of the kind to be seen. For those of us here in his kingdom, there is one other thing we have known: of the kingdoms around in his lifetime, it’s the only one left with a throne.

Andrew Daughters, The Kingdom of Jesus, CSS Publishing.
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9. Freedom Riders

Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the '50s and '60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King.
When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep.

For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, "You can take our mattresses, but you can't take our souls!"

The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious.

Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King!

Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain -- Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, CSS Publishing
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10. Gandhi's Strength

In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness.

Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace
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11. King and Kingdom

Ironically, it is not so much the priestly or prophetic aspect of the work of Christ which John highlights in his narrative of the crucifixion. Rather it is the kingly role of Christ as the dying Savior which dominates John's account of our Lord's final hours.

I say ironic because John's gospel does not feature the kingdom of God; nor does he focus upon Christ's claim to be the coming king—until chapter 18. Whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke from the very beginning of their gospels describe Jesus proclaiming the imminence of the kingdom of heaven—the miracles of Christ as signs of the kingdom breaking-in to history—the parables (which are completely absent from John's gospel)—as parables of the kingdom, John only mentions the words "king" and "kingdom" six times prior to chapter 18…
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12. Man for All Seasons:

            There is a great scene in the play A Man for All Seasons that fits so well here.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the faith against the persuasion and eventually persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second in charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine since she was his sister-in-law and since she did not give birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asks the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replies with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different. And people know it.  That is why I need your support.”
 
            In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject. 
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 13.   St. Ignatius of Antioch
   
            The patron of our parish, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was the second most powerful Christian in the Roman Empire, second only to the Bishop of Rome.  He had written letters to Christians to stand up for the faith in the face of persecution.  And then he, as a venerable old man, was arrested.  He was put on a ship that would eventually end up sending its cargo to Rome.  There he would be fed to the lions in the Colosseum.  Many early Christians could not bear the thought of losing Ignatius.  He was too important, too needed in the Church.  They plotted to raise money to bribe the sailors in one of the ports the ship would stop before reaching Rome.  They had plenty of time to do so, the trip would take two to three years.  Evidently they also had  plenty of money.  Wealthy Christians were determined to save Ignatius.  They just didn’t understand Ignatius’ integrity.  He was not going to buy his way out of a fate that he had encouraged others to have the courage to accept.  Nor was he going to use  some sort of skillful legalese to save his skin. So he walked into the Colosseum with the other Christians in control of the direction of his life.  He was a frail old man; yet, he was more powerful than the lions who would destroy him or the Romans who did not have the courage to stop the absurd spectacle.  Ignatius was a man of integrity.
 
            Ignatius of Antioch and Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity.  The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie.  And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath.
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 14. Long live Christ the King!

In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and it tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!" They called themselves "Cristeros." The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey" “Long live Christ the King!” At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up "Padre Pro" or "Saint Miguel Pro" on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom).

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15. “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
 
St Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England.  What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII, decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and make himself head of the Church of England, More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of one’s heart and home; one must also confess him in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci).

16.  On His Majesty’s Service:
 
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released.  He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king Jesus Christ who saved me?"  The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt."  But Polycarp said, "You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly.  Do what you wish."   (L/12)
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17. Christ is in charge:
 
Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: "Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: 'Thomas, who is in charge here?'  Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ " 
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18.  Co-pilot Christ the king:
 
Many people love bumper sticker theology.  Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.  One such, “God is my Co-pilot," has also been found on church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder.  In this case, the Church sign says, "If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats."