34 Sunday C: Christ the King


Gospel Text:  Luke 23:35-43
jESUS ON CROSS
Michel de Verteuil
General Textual comments
In order to enter into the celebration of today’s feast, two points need to be clarified.
The first concerns the meaning of “kingship” in this context. In modern Western culture, kings and queens do not exercise much power; in the Bible, however, their power is absolute. What we are celebrating in today’s feast, then, is the power of Jesus – who never used his power to his own advantage.
Secondly, this power, real and effective though it is, is very different from power as the world understands it. We must not therefore presume that we know what we are celebrating. The feast is rather an occasion to discover (or re-discover) the power of Jesus, how it works and what are its effects, so that we can celebrate it.
The rediscovery will be a true celebration as we experience that Jesus’ way of exercising power – the divine way – is good news for us as individuals and as communities, including the entire human family. It will also be a call to conversion as we become aware of how little this kind of power is known and practiced, even by Jesus’ followers. We will also feel a longing for the coming of God’s kingdom – a new civilization based on this kind of power.
We repent for the way we Christians have misrepresented the power of God, portraying him to the world as a despot, and often a cruel one, “not fully mirroring the image of our crucified Lord, the supreme witness of patient love and of humble meekness” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente).
It is an occasion to celebrate the great models of Jesus power of our century. We remember concrete scenes: Gandhi clothed in his homespun dhoti, standing before the British viceroy; Pope John Paul on his first visit to Poland as pope; Nelson Mandela leaving prison; Mother Teresa standing alongside Princess Diana. The power of truth, of honesty, of forgiveness – with no frills! How different the world would be if it was governed by this kind of power!
We are led to consciousness of Jesus’ power through lectio divina. Meditating on the Bible text we remember with deep gratitude moments when people entered our lives exercising his kind of power; other moments when by God’s grace we have been able to exercise it ourselves, as parents, church ministers, fellow-workers, friends. These moments are for us “seeds of the kingdom.”
Christ crucified
This year, the gospel reading on this feast day invites us to enter into the extraordinary paradox – Jesus exercises power as he hangs on the cross. We enter the lowliness first – at the level of our feelings, as always in lectio divina. We feel for Jesus hanging between two criminals, “one on the right and the other on the left,” as St Luke puts it dramatically in the previous verse; there is no question of Jesus’ cross being slightly higher than the others, as in some representations of the scene. He is mocked by the leaders and the soldiers and by one of the criminals. Their humiliating taunt is true: he saved others, now he cannot save himself. We allow the text to remind us of similarly humiliating situations.
Our meditation then moves in one of two directions. We can celebrate great people who, like Jesus, enter freely into that lowly state so that they can exercise his power:
– leaders share their weaknesses with members of their communities;
– religious men and women choose to live among the poor and the vulnerable;
– groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have as their basic principle that all members must confess their addiction;
– the Church confesses its sins to other religious bodies and to the world.
More often people are brought into that situation – usually against their will – and by their faith they make it an experience of Jesus power:
– parents remain faithful to their children even when they see the children sent to prison, victims of drugs, rejecting their parents’ values;
– spouses maintain their dignity when deserted by their partners;
– we grow in compassion through falling into a sin we thought we had done with;
– our Church becomes more humble as it becomes engulfed in sex scandals;
– a political party is able to purify its goals because its members have been discovered to be corrupt. The passage invites us to celebrate the effect of Jesus power: the lowly are lifted up, “set in the company of princes” (Psalm 113:8).
jesus-and-good-thief-2
The good thief is the perfect symbol of this process, and we must enter with deep emotion into his moment of grace. Up to then he was nobody. Now, because Jesus shares his lowly fate, he has his moment in history, he enters into his truth. Jesus thanks him for his faith (how he needed that!) and they enter into paradise together, companions in faith.
We can read the passage from either perspective – that of Jesus or that of the thief. We celebrate times when our failures brought us into communion with those we looked down on; other times when someone we were in awe of shared their story with us and we discovered our own greatness, perhaps for the first time.
It would be good to spend some time letting ourselves be touched by the setting of the story. This is a unique moment in human history – God’s power at its height; a sacred moment, too, when the great high priest is reconciling the world to God. But what do we see? Two human beings standing by each other, nothing more! What a judgement on how the world judges greatness – or holiness – whether of people or of places!

Gospel Prayers
Lord, we thank you that you showed us in Jesus the true meaning of power.
He exercised kingship by coming among us as a companion,
sharing our terrible experiences of lowliness,
of hanging on a cross with two criminals, one on our right and the other on our left,
having people jeer at us that we who are your anointed, specially chosen by you,
we who in many ways bring salvation to others,
are unable to save ourselves or our families.
Now we can share with you the pain
of having those who looked up to us as leaders in the community
angry with us because we could not save ourselves and them as well.
Give us the grace to follow in Jesus’ footsteps,
turning our moments of lowliness into moments of power,
when we enter into communion with those in need,
proving the values of the world wrong,
for when we learn to accept that w cannot save ourselves,
we bring salvation to all those who are being crucified.
Lord, we pray that your Church may not stand aloof from the world,
But be willing like Jesus to share the fate of the poor,
To accept hanging on the cross with them,
Alongside criminals at times, some on the right, some on the left.
Hanging there, your Church will experience mockery as Jesus did,
from religious leaders as well as ordinary foot soldiers,
will be abused by those who look for quick solutions to their problems,
but will discover heroic people among those whom the world has condemned
and will enter paradise walking hand in hand with them.
Lord, we thank you for people who have been for us what the good thief was for Jesus.
Whereas others rejected us because we could not save them,
They saw that we had done nothing wrong to deserve the harsh sentence we had received,
called us tenderly by our names
and asked us to be remembered among our friends.
al-aLord, we thank you for addicts who join rehabilitation groups like Alcoholic Anonymous.
Like the good thief, they experienced disgrace but continued to fear you.
Then one day they stopped abusing others for their plight
And recognized that they deserved the sentence of condemnation they had received
From family and friends,
And that they were paying for the evil they had done.
Very humbly, they turned to the Jesus you sent to share their pain
And asked to be admitted into the company of the converted.
They received the assurance that on that very day they would enter into your kingdom.
Lord, we pray for those who feel excluded
– from positions of power because they have failed
in their professional or personal lives,
– from the Church because of failures on their personal relationships.
We pray that they will discover greatness and holiness in themselves
By contemplating Jesus on Calvary
– a king with no royal throne,
– a priest with no temple or altar of sacrifice,
just himself and the good their in their integrity,
willing each other into paradise.
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Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
Way back in January we began the year by celebrating the Baptism of Jesus when a voice was heard calling him ‘the beloved Son’. During the year we have greeted Jesus under all the views of him we find in the gospels. Now today, at the end of the year, we greet him with the all-embracing title: Jesus Christ, Universal King.
jesus-assending
The Christ is the one who will gather us all together at the end of time, the one who will judge the living and the dead, and then present his kingdom to the Father. In our pilgrimage of faith that kingdom of justice, truth, and peace is to be our beacon, and Christ our guide. But before we join Christ in his banquet, we must ask pardon for the times when we followed other paths and other ways, when we listened to false prophets of greed and materialism, and for when we have failed to work for the coming of the kingdom.

Gospel Notes
This is Luke’s crucifixion scene immediately before his account of the death and to appreciate it we need to break it into two parts:
first, vv 35-39; and
second, vv 39-43 (v 39 forms the link between the two parts).
mockers-at-the-cross
The first section is made up of the various groups that mock and revile Jesus as he hangs on the cross and its content is found in all three of the synoptics. However, while Matthew follows Mark in both content and sequence, Luke re-arranges the material. Why he does this is not clear.
The second part of this scene suggests that he wants to create a deliberate contrast between the expectations of those who mock Jesus as a fraud and the genuine way that the Royal Son of God, the Christ – when he is actually with humanity – behaves in history.
The key transition moment is v 39: ‘One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” What is remarkable here is that in Mark and Matthew it is both of the robbers on either side of him that revile him. Luke takes the scene of the three crosses (23:33 II Mk 15:27; Mt 27:38, Jn 19:18) and makes it a scene for the fundamental human decision. In Mark and Matthew there are no words given to those crucified with Jesus, so the whole section vv 39-43 is found only in Luke. One behaves exactly like the chief priests, elders and soldiers and mocks Jesus using their very words — we have to note the irony here that he sides with the persecutors of Jesus who are also his own persecutors, rather than with a fellow sufferer. In ext remis, he can still only think of himself and his own perceptions of what God should be. The world of his selfishness and his demands is the only universe that exists. Then there is the contrast of the other criminal who can see both himself, his predicament, and the predicament of all three of them, and can ask for mercy.
J + THIEF
This petition from the ‘good thief’, as he has become known in the tradition, then brings out Luke’s even deeper irony: the false perceptions of the Christ and of the Royal One elicit nothing; but the call in need elicits the divine words of mercy: ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’ The irony points to the paradox at the heart of the mystery of the incarnation in Luke that can be seen from his crib scene (2:7) right through to this moment: there are the expectations of power, might, and noise from the Christ of God, yet there is silence, suffering and powerlessness. When there is a divine judgement, a word of divine power (‘truly, I say to you’), and a display of divine knowing, it comes in response to a cry of need from a suffering criminal, on his own cross.

Homily notes
1. A good starting point today is to try to get the assembly to see what images – not their theological theories or sound­bites from a catechism – the words ‘the End of the World’ bring to their minds. First, it is not something that people like to dwell on; second, there is a natural fearfulness about the future in most people; third, there is legacy of apocalypticism in western culture; and fourth, disasters that are looming is big business in our society.
2. It depends on the size of the gathering and on how used they are to homily-experiences other than the talking head as to how people access these images. If they can talk about it, or if even a few people can give their images, it will be a much richer learning experience than if one just says: ‘Now think about this for a moment.’
3. The likelihood is that many will have images that portray the universe as a dangerous, unfriendly place, indeed, a place where God is either just an impersonal force or else the Juggernaut of vengeance. It is part of our complexity as human beings that we can say ‘God loves each of us’ – and mean and believe it – while at the same time having images deep within our consciousness of the cosmos that imply that God does not care or is cruel judge. Having that mind of Christ is not something that just happens when we accept a creed; it is a slow process of love and conversion.
4. It is worth dwelling on the sources of fear and giving them names.
5. We tend not to like to think far into the future – it brings up the thoughts of times of loss and death. This is something that seems common to all of us: we want to put the future be­yond tomorrow or after the next few years’ on the long finger’. Many do not like thinking about retirement, pensions or making a will.
6. We have another natural, and seemingly universal, fear of the future: if the future is open, then things can go right or they can go wrong. This is the fear that makes us prudent and it is also the frisson of excitement when we make a bet. The future is a challenge to us and we are fearful lest we fail. We have all felt this whether it is before a test, or before doing something in public, or even trying to figure out the way to fill in a form we have just been sent.
7. There is a long tradition of using the images of disaster as part of the Christian message: God will come with fire and brimstone, and punish the wicked. We have to simply acknowledge this and ask is it the only Christian image?
8. A looming disaster is big business. We are all offered far more insurance than we need on every conceivable bit of kit we have. Movies and newspapers all need to hear about the latest disaster that is about to befall us. Governments use fear of ‘the threat’ from some vague other group or disease as a way of forming and justifying policy. It is much easier to lead by seeming to react to threat than to have a positive vision.
9. Now contrast the image of Christ as the one who hands back a kingdom brought to perfection in him through his love and forgiveness, to the Father. Christ is the omega point of our existence in his love and forgiveness.
1a-jesus-hug
0. Just such a contrast of expectations is at the heart of today’s gospel: the accusers think they know how the Christ will or should behave; but the reality is radically different. Today’s doom mongers are just as certain about the end, but we celebrate the end as Christ being all in all, ruling over all in love, and establishing peace. At this point it might be word read­ing the central section of today’s preface.
11. Where do we see a foretaste of that omega point: in today’s gospel. The end of the Christ in our bodily existence is not a moment of vengeance, but of love towards one suffering with him: Today you will be with me in paradise.
12. Lastly, we need to acknowledge that many religious people do not like this vision of the End as it seems to make ‘God’ too soft and too soppy. A God of power and stem justice seems a more robust being than one of love and forgiveness. And these people seem to be in the majority among the shareholders of religion TV stations. But does this ‘robust­ness’ belong to the very group that Luke sees being rejected for their images of the Christ in today’s gospel?
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Sean Goan
Gospel Notes
The last Sunday of the year is always celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King and in each year of the liturgical cycle we are invited to ponder some aspect of Christ’s rule over the church and indeed all creation. In year C we have been reading the gospel of Luke over many Sundays and have been privileged to see how the great mystery of God’s universal love and mercy is revealed in the person of Jesus. It is appropriate then on this feast to focus on Jesus on the cross granting pardon to the repentant thief. For Luke this aspect of the kingdom of God has been central: Jesus has come to bring the healing forgiveness of God to all who seek it.
salvation in the cross
Reflection
‘If you are the king of the Jews then save yourself.’ This cry of mockery from the crowds on Calvary is worthy of our reflection on a feast such as today’s. It is precisely because he is the king of the Jews, and indeed king of the whole world, that Jesus does not save himself. He is more concerned to save others. This he does, not by the majestic use of power or a dramatic manifestation of his glory, but rather through a humble giving of himself in which the mercy of God is offered to everyone in an act of overwhelming generosity. Today we celebrate a king whose wealth lies in his love for all, and whose authority is exercised through service of those who are considered the least important of all. Jesus does not seek servants who grovel before his throne in the hope of being granted favours, he is looking for disciples who can stand before the cross and see there their own worth and the worth of every other human being, and who will be prepared to do what they can to uphold the dignity of their brothers and sisters.
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Donal Neary SJ
Feast of Christ the King
Jesus couldn’t do much for the man on the cross… his own hands were nailed. He couldn’1 take him off, but he gave him more than he could ask for. He gave him paradise.
Where is God in our suffering? What sort of hope can we find this week in our country? What with so many horrible atrocities taking place, and the economic mess we have. What has God and the Church to say? God in his love for his people, and the Church with its social teachings – have they any message of hope?
Where is God? God did not cause the recession nor murders. We may learn a lot through it and good may come later or now. Our suffering at the moment is of human making. Not of our making, but of some of our leaders and bankers, mostly through greed. God is with us suffering like he was with the thief. He didn’t cause the suffering of the man on the next cross to him. He wants our happiness and wants justice and prosperity for all.
jesus-hugs
God is with us, holding our hands, asking us to support each other. The Church will offer a place and space to find the love of God, and its social teaching will ask us to look for the common good in the future. It offers also a place where we can hear the Church’s approach to our economic future, reminding us all the time of the needs of the poor and the ordinary in education, medical care, housing and the ways in which the very old and the poor will suffer most in a situation which has been none of their doing. We are the Chinch and called on to make our voices heard for those who, like the man on the next cross, have little voice except to ask for help.
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From The Connections:

THE WORD:
Throughout his Gospel, Luke has portrayed Jesus as the humble, obedient servant of God.  In the resurrection, such humility and selflessness will be exalted by God.  In Luke’s account, Jesus steadfastly refused any demonstration of power for himself but manifested the power of God only for the faith and healing of the poor, the troubled, the lost and the rejected.  Even while hanging on the cross (an incident recorded only by Luke), Jesus only claims power to save the “good thief” who places his trust in him.
Luke’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion is a pretty hopeless depiction:  Jesus, the generous teacher and the loving healer, is hung on a tree like a common criminal; he is the object of scorn and derision by the very people he came to serve and save.  But in one of his last breaths, Jesus offers peace and healing to a criminal hanging there with him.  Such is the transforming and redemptive love of Christ.  From the crosses and crucifixions of our world, the reign of God takes shape when we imitate the humble selflessness of Christ in bringing his spirit of hope and reconciliation into the lives of those around us.
 
HOMILY POINTS:
On this last Sunday of the Church year, we honor Christ the King whose kingdom knows neither boundaries nor walls, neither castes nor classes; Christ the King whose rule is one of humble service; Christ the King whose crown is compassion, whose scepter is humility; Christ the King whose court belongs to the poor, the forgotten, the lost, the despairing; Christ the King whose coin is forgiveness and reconciliation.  
To be a disciple of Christ demands a clear, conscious decision, not passive, rote compliance; to claim Christ as King means to make his vision of compassion and justice the measure of our integrity and the compass for our journey through this life to the life of the world to come.
In Luke’s account of the crucifixion, only the “good thief” recognizes the grave injustice that is taking place.  In recognizing the innocence and goodness of Jesus, he is able to see and accept responsibility for his own sinfulness and need for forgiveness.  With that realization comes hope – the thief understands what even Jesus’ closest disciples do not: that God will vindicate the injustices of this life in the fullness of the next. 

Prisoner of war
Two veterans visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.  With tears in their eyes, they touch the names etched into the black marble: the names of their brothers with whom they served in Southeast Asia and with whom they were imprisoned by the Viet Cong.
As they leave the memorial, one of the ex-POWS asks, “Have you forgiven your captors yet?”
“No, never,” his friend replies.
His buddy pauses for a moment, looks behind him again at the wall, and then says, “Then it seems they still have you in prison, don’t they?”
[From Spirituality & Health, Winter 1999.]
 
On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we stand on the edge of paradise; we look through the doorway of heaven.  In his promise to the “good thief,” Jesus opens the door to true freedom; he invites us to enter Paradise here and now; he has established the reign of God in our time and place.  All we have to do — and it is no small thing — is put aside our hurts and slights, drop our demand for restitution and vengeance, realize our need to be re-created in the love of God.  The thief crucified with Jesus recognizes that need in himself and calls out to Jesus — and Jesus, in the last, painful moments of his own life, responds with compassion and hope.  In the shadow of the cross, we are able to finally admit our need for healing, for peace, for God.  In acknowledging our own need to forgive and be forgiven, to love and be loved, to give and be ministered to, Christ’s promise of Paradise is ours.  
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ILLUSTRATIONS:

1.     Andrew Greeley: 

Background:

This is a medieval feast which uses the metaphor of “king” -- a powerful one in those days – to describe the role of Jesus. Today the implications of such a metaphor are harder for us to comprehend, though the fascination with the late Princess of Wales suggests that we still like royalty and royal families – though perhaps we don’t quite understand any more the tragedy that is inherent in royal leadership. 

 In fact, the kingdom which Jesus preached was the kingdom of his Father in heaven, a kingdom of forgiving love with no royal trappings at all, a kingdom which had always been there but which now (through Jesus) we're beginning to recognize for the first time. The kingdom of Jesus is summarized in the words of the Our Father – forgive us as we forgive. No matter how many times we say that prayer, the meaning seems to allude us. We expected to be forgiven, but we don’t want to forgive.

 Story:

Once upon a time a young man grew up bitterly angry at the girl down the street. He was bright enough but slow spoken and shy. She was quick-witted and funny. He said and did stupid things, he was tongue tied in class and stumbled on the playground. She made fun of him. He was terrible in sports. She laughed at him. He resented her popularity and her intelligence and her success. 

It was not right that she was so good at everything and he was so bad. Then the boys noticed how pretty she was and they all chased after her. The girls sort of like him, but she said he was a nerd and they all agreed.   

Then his family moved away. He was glad to leave the neighborhood. He hated everyone in it and especially he hated her. In his new neighborhood he was treated like everyone else. He stopped stumbling, he thought more quickly. He got good marks in class, he became popular. It was all her fault that he had not been popular in the old neighborhood. She had ruined the early part of his life. Someday he’d get even.

 Then, when he went to college, he met her again. She was beautiful now and very friendly to him. She didn’t seem to remember how cruel she had been. He  thought she’d be a very interesting date – maybe someday even more than that. She kind of thought the same thing.  

But he turned his back on her and ignored her.  
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Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading from the Book of Samuel we hear that though David was anointed King, the northern tribes later acknowledged him as their king. Thus David became king of a united country. His kingship prefigured the universal kingship of Christ. The Church chose this passage not to let us know of a historical event, how David became king, but to stress two important qualities of Christ the King: Firstly, that Jesus our King is “one of us.” We are “your flesh and blood.” Secondly, that Christ is king not of just two of the twelve tribes, not of one nation but of all mankind.

Brothers and Sisters of the King
Sometimes Americans wonder why the English bother with the monarchy, since the Queen is little more than a figurehead with no authority. Yet within most people there is a wish for a person whom we can look up to, someone who personifies dignity and wins our respect, a person who makes us feel better about ourselves. Many Americans found that kind of a person in the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States. He was young, handsome, intelligent and articulate. He was married to a beautiful woman who, it seemed to us, had become his Queen. The White House became known as Camelot. The United States had a family to whom many Americans attributed royalty. But on Friday Nov. 22, 1963 the dream was shattered with the President assassinated. The dream of Camelot was gone and the illusion of royalty was dimmed. All along we had been looking in the wrong direction towards the White House as if it were a palace. We should have been looking back to Calvary because the cross is truly the throne of Christ the King. We do not need an earthly sovereign to give us self-respect. Our King is truly royal. His kingdom is not an imaginary Camelot. It is an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice love and peace. Our King is Christ the Lord.

Charles Miller in ‘Sunday preaching’


Today’s gospel scene that proclaims the kingship of Jesus is, surprisingly, the crucifixion. Only on the cross is Jesus proclaimed king. There is high drama here, and a remarkable paradox. Those in authority jeer at the notion of the crucified Jesus being God’s Chosen One or the King of the Jews. It is in utter helplessness that Jesus is recognized as king. There could not be a better picture of the kind of king Jesus is than the one pictured in today’s gospel: Luke shows Jesus on the cross surrounded by various people – By Jewish leaders and soldiers who mock him, by thieves crucified on either side of him. Jesus is also surrounded by his friends and his mother who in sorrow watch him from a distance. On the cross Jesus showed the kind of king he would be: One who distributes his gifts generously. He gives and gives without counting the cost. On the cross Jesus showed himself as a king who saves: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” One of those crucified with him demands what he clearly regards as impossible –that Jesus saves himself and those with him. The other thief is the only one who adopts the attitude proper in the presence of a king -to make supplication. He is rewarded with a promise that consoles and strengthens believers down the ages. To be part of his kingdom we have to submit to His loving rule which leads to true freedom. Baptism introduced us to His kingdom; we must see that we are faithful citizens by following in His footsteps, working for the spread of his kingdom by leading loving lives in the service of his people.

Though crucified, Jesus was still king
During a cruel war, a commander took an oath in the presence of his troops that he would slaughter the entire population of a certain town, and in due course the bloodhounds of war were let loose on the defenceless people. Now it happened that a fugitive, seeking shelter, saw a sight which was indirectly the means of saving his life and the lives of others. He spied a number of soldiers as they broke into a house, the inmates of which they had put to the sword. On leaving they fastened up the place again and one of them dipping a cloth in a pool of blood, splashed it on the door as a token to any who might follow, of what had taken place. Quick as his feet could carry him, the fugitive sped away to a large house in the centre of the town where a number of his friends were concealed and breathlessly told them what he had seen. It at once flashed upon them how to act. A goat was in the yard. It was immediately killed and its blood splashed on the door, scarcely could they close the door again when a band of soldiers rushed into the street and began to slay right and left. But when they came to the blood marked door they made no attempt to enter. The sword –or so they thought- had already entered and performed its work in that house. Thus, while many around were put to death, all inside the blood sprinkled door were saved. -Do we find joy in serving a crucified Lord and King?

Gerard Fuller in ‘Stories for all Seasons’


Stumbling block or stepping stone
Once, two travelers were going through a forest when night came upon them. In a matter of minutes, the path they were following became invisible. In the darkness terror lurked everywhere. To make matters worse, a violent storm broke over the forest. Terrifying flashes of lightning were followed by loud peals of thunder that shook the ground under their feet. Torrents of rain poured down upon them. The trees swayed dangerously. The first man looked on the storm as a calamity. Every time there was a flash of lightning, he looked up at the sky and cursed. The result was that he strayed from the path and got lost in the forest. The second man looked on the storm as a blessing in disguise. Each flash of lightning lit up a bit of the path ahead of him and thus he was able to take a step forward. By keeping his head down he succeeded in staying on the path. And so, step by step he made his way out of the forest. Sometimes that’s the way it is in life, there is just enough light to take the next step, and just enough strength to do the present task. The thunderstorm was the exact same for both travelers. Yet for one it proved to be a stumbling block, while for the other it proved to be a stepping stone. – In today’s gospel one of the thieves cursed the darkness, the other saw a gleam of light through it. The light came from the person of Christ and he decided to appeal to Jesus. “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus moved with compassion said to him in that memorable reply that has brought hope to millions: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’


Won’t you come down, King?
A king once fell in love with a poor girl. At first he thought of simply bringing her to the palace and marrying her, but he realized this wouldn’t work since she would soon realize the immense difference in their backgrounds and not be happy. After much reflection, he decided to renounce his kingdom and go and live near her so that she’d realize how deeply he loved her. Shocking one and all, he left the palace. This story –adapted from philosopher Kierkegaard’s original –somehow reveals to us the great love of our king Jesus Christ, who ‘comes down’ that we might be raised up.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’


The Compassionate King
In one of his homilies Fr. William Bausch gives us the following insight:
Jesus did not have a sceptre but he did have a towel.

He did not have people bowing backwards from his presence but he himself bowed instead and washed their feet. He had no army but He did have disciples. He sat on no throne but rather on a donkey’s back. He wore no crown of gold but of thorns.
He did not take life but gave it. He did not set boundaries but included prostitutes, tax collectors, foreigners and good thieves in his kingdom. He did not exploit people but spoke sympathetically of widow’s mites, prodigal sons, good Samaritans, and poor farmers. He did not wield the sword but mercy. He said: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus is a compassionate King. Shouldn’t we be compassionate?

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’


Living like an animal but dying like an angel
Mother Teresa told how one day in Calcutta she picked a man out of the gutter and brought him to the home for the dying. Before he died he said to her, “I have lived like an animal but dying like an angel, loved and cared for.” Mother Teresa remarked on the greatness of a man who could speak like that and who could die without blaming anyone or cursing anyone. She felt privileged to have been able to help him to live out his last hours feeling loved and cherished. Here is a man who had lived through a life of hell who had a luminous death.

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’


If there is one thing that the world makes much of today it is power. We
find that it motivates so many of our relationships. From the time we are
children right through our youthful days, teenage, our life as young adults,
till we grow as senior citizens, life is about taking control. We manipulate
others and influence them in subtle or overt ways. We want to have our say,
we want others to notice us, to follow us, to listen to us and do as we tell
them. However right through the Gospels Jesus has revealed to us that His
values are different and today's feast once again emphasizes a totally
different type of lifestyle one that surrenders power and serves rather than
dominates. May His Word and life challenge us!

This is the Gospel image of royalty totally different from what the world
holds. His is a total reversal of roles usually assigned to royalty and
servitude. He refuses to be master of the world, the mighty monarch, the
spiller of blood. His reign subverts our notion of kingship. He is a king
who serves others. He is the king who dies for others. He is the king who is
ridiculed, scorned and mocked. "He saved other" they said "Let him save
himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen one." Most insufferable, most
repugnant of all, is the fact that he is a powerless sovereign. On the cross
he is not respected as a King but ridiculed by the soldiers. "If you are the
King of the Jews, save yourself" The crucified king is also the secret key
to Christ's uniqueness, there is none other like him.

I have nothing more to give:
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 a man's
wedding ring. When they cleaned it up, they noticed that it had an
inscription on it. Etched on the wide band was a hand holding a heart. 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 that
ring and its beautiful inscription. The etching on that ring and its
inscription "I have noting more to give" -could have been placed on the
cross of Christ.
- Mark Link

"In celebrating Christ the King at the end of the church year, we force
ourselves to remember the appalling fact of our salvation. Our hunger for
being above the rest, our desire to dominate, which may well motivate our
every action, is spurned by this king. Rene Girard, a professor of language
and culture at Stanford University, is a rare contemporary thinker who
confronts the implications of the Christian faith. In his book 'Things
Hidden Since the Foundation of the World', Girard shows how Christ
dismantles the triangle of desire, violence and retribution. In Christ there
is no envy, greed, or lust for power. He, the innocent king who executes
none, is executed. He seeks no vengeance. Christ the king is the only
sovereign to embody such principles."
 - John Kavanaugh

Saved by the blood of the Lamb:
During a cruel and bloody war a commander took an oath in the presence of
his troops that he would slaughter the entire population of a certain town,
and during the course the bloodhounds of war were let loose on the
defenseless people. Now it so happened that a fugitive seeking shelter, saw
a sight, which was indirectly the means of saving both his own life and the
lives of others. He spied a number of soldiers as they broke into a house,
the inmates of which were put to the sword. On leaving it, they fastened up
the place again, and one of them dipping a cloth in a pool of blood splashed
it on the door as a token to any who might follow, of what had taken place
inside.

As quickly as his feet could carry him, the poor fugitive sped away to a
large house in the centre of the town where a large number of his friends
were concealed, and breathlessly told them what he had seen. At once it
flashed upon them how to act. A goat was in the yard. It was immediately
killed, and its blood splashed upon the door. Scarcely could they close the
door again when a band of soldiers rushed into the street and began to slay
right and left. But when they came to the blood-marked door, they made no
attempt to enter. The sword, so they thought, had already entered and
performed its work in that house. Thus, while many around were put to death,
all inside the blood-sprinkled door were saved.      
  -Anthony P. Castle

Throughout the entire Gospel we have seen Jesus seeking out and saving the
lost one: the lost coin, the lost sheep, the two lost sons, the woman of
ill-repute who anointed him, the tax collectors, the Samaritans, and Sunday
after Sunday our readings have reminded us of Jesus' mission to the lost
one. Now that Jesus has been lifted up on the cross as King, a further 'lost
one' comes to life. Recognizing Jesus' innocence a criminal asks his
new-found King: "Remember me when you come into your kingdom" and he is told
"Today you will be with me in Paradise."

We all wish to be remembered and remembering is the foundation of any
relationship. We nourish our relationships through remembering. Remembrance
renews relationships between separated or absent friends. Without it there
is no hope. We are so grateful for being remembered and it is a blessing
that we treasure and draw upon in darker moments. This is just as true of
human love and friendship as it is of our relationship with Jesus. Just as
the good thief's prayer brought an instant guaranteed promise of everlasting
friendship, today's gospel assures us of a similar outcome when we make this
prayer our own. It can be in our hearts and on our lips every day of our
life. It has the power to unite us to Jesus unceasingly, a prayer for sinner
and saint.

Jesus, remember me in your kingdom!

****
From Father Tony Kadavil’s Collection: 

1.     A Man for All Seasons:  

There is a great scene in the play that fits very well with today’s feast of Christ the King. 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 also his sister-in-law and since she had not given 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 asked the King, “Why do you need my support?” Henry VIII replied 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.

2.     The shivering and hungry king:

There is a story about an Irish king. He had no children to succeed him on the throne. So he decided to choose his successor from among the people. The only condition set by the king, as announced throughout his kingdom, was that the candidate must have a deep love for God and neighbor. In a remote village of the kingdom lived a poor but gentle youth who was noted for his kindness and helpfulness to all his neighbors. The villagers encouraged him to enter the contest for kingship. They took up a collection for him so that he could make the long journey to the royal palace. After giving him the necessary food and a good overcoat, they sent him on his way. As the young man neared the castle, he noticed a beggar sitting on a bench in the royal park, wearing torn clothes. He was shivering in the cold while begging for food. Moved with compassion, the young man gave the beggar his new overcoat and the food he had saved for his return journey. After waiting for a long time in the parlor of the royal palace, the youth was admitted for an interview with the king. As he raised his eyes after prostrating before the king, he was amazed to find the king wearing the overcoat he had given to the beggar at the park, and greeting him as the new king of the country. When he comes in glory, Christ the King is going to judge us on the basis of our corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 

3.     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.’ " 

4.     “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!”
 
Of thirty Roman emperors, governors of provinces and others in high office, who distinguished themselves by their fanatical zeal and bitterness in persecuting the early Christians, one became mentally deranged; another was slain by his own son. One of them became blind; another was drowned. One was strangled; another died in miserable captivity. One of them died of so loathsome a disease that several of his physicians were put to death because they could not abide the stench that filled his room. Two committed suicide; another attempted it but had to call for help to finish the work. Five were assassinated by their own people or servants, five others died the most miserable and excruciating deaths and eight were killed in battle, or after being taken prisoners. Among those who died in battle was Julian the Apostate. In the days of his prosperity he is said to have pointed his dagger to heaven, defying the Son of God whom he commonly called the Galilean. But when he was wounded in battle and saw that all was over with him, he gathered up his clotted blood and threw it into the air, exclaiming, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean!” (Boise)

 5.     Sleep-inducing sermon on Christ the King:  

"I hope you didn't take it personally, Father," an embarrassed woman said to her pastor after the Holy Mass, "when my husband walked out during your sermon on Christ the King." "I did find it rather disconcerting," the pastor replied. "It's not a reflection on you, Father," she insisted. "Ralph has been walking in his sleep ever since he was a child."

6.     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 us 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." 

7.     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) 

8.     On His Majesty’s Service:  

Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. He was told if he cursed Christ, 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."

9.     Desperate deaths of autocratic kings & dictators:  

The death of Josef Stalin (1879-1953), the Communist dictator was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visual than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621), who proved an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last, wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit, but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX, who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was said to have offered, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s gospel challenges us to compare to these deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez) 

10.  “Honey, take a long, long look”:  

As the body of Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio for mourners to pay their tribute, a black woman in the long queue lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. He died for us, to give us freedom from slavery.” Today’s gospel gives us the same advice, presenting the crucifixion scene of Christ our king who redeemed us from Satan’s slavery by his death on the cross.

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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."