34 Sunday A: Christ the King


1) Who's king in today's world? The one judged by: the Size of the car, house, iPhone, number of likes in social media, position, title, pay packet, employees under....?
2) Who's the King of the Kingdom of God? Each one gets 1 denarius, look after the vineyard, talents to invest and  multiply, come to the wedding feast, beloved son...., shepherd and servant leadership....
3) King who is a judge and our accountability. Reckoning day. We are forgiven by mercy and condemned by judgment. Health, wealth, responsibility, talents, wedding garment, shepherd, vineyard responsibility ......
4) Our baptism, confirmation, Eucharist does not matter at the end of the day, we wonder...? Mt 25 means these are foundations to look after the children of God. These give us the strength, inspiration, direction to do that.  They are not titles, positions or entitlements for salvation...
T.K.
*********


Gospel text: Matthew 25:31-46
Last J
 Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement
in the Sistine Chapel, Rome

Michel DeVerteuil
General Comments
 
For today’s feast of Christ the King, the Church chose a gospel passage which is the final teaching of Jesus’ public life according to St Matthew; it therefore completes the lectionary’s “continuous reading” for the year. Meditating on this passage in the light of the feast requires two clarifications.
Modern Western culture does not have kings – or queens. The few left do not exercise any real power; they play ceremonial roles and we associate them with pomp and pageantry. In the biblical culture, however, kings are leaders of their communities. They are “judges” in the sense that they set moral standards for the community. Rightly then, today’s gospel reading celebrates Christ’s kingship as an act of “judgement”.
The second clarification  is that Jesus is a special kind of king – his way of “judging” is very different from what prevails in the world. This is what the feast celebrates – the “good news for the poor” of Christ’s (God’s) standards of judgement. It is also a call to repentance addressed to us as individuals and as a Church, since our “judgments” (in word or action) are often far removed from those of Jesus.
As always in the bible, Christ’s kingship is taught not in abstract language but through a dramatic story – an event we are invited to identify with.
Jesus face to faceTh story is of a future, final judgment – like the parable of two weeks ago, “the kingdom of heaven will be like this”. Our present judgments are never “final”,  the final one will occur only “when the Son of Man comes in his glory escorted by all his angels”. For now, all we can be certain of is that God’s judgement will surprise us, and so we are humble in his presence. To the extent that we are complacent and self-satisfied we are not ready for God’s judgement.
St Paul sums up our attitude: “There must be no passing of premature judgement. Leave that until the Lord comes: he will light up all that is hidden in the dark and reveal the secret intentions  the human heart” (1 Cor 4: 5).

This is not the whole picture, however. Today’s passage invites us to remember the temporary and fleeting “judgement moments” we may have experienced
we became seriously ill
– our marriage broke up
– we fell into a fault we thought we would never succumb to
– our country experienced  national disaster, floods, famine, civil war.
These experiences are authentic encounters with God in that they reinforce the teaching of the entire bible that when God comes into the world “the lowly are lifted up and set in the company of princes”, “the barren wife bears countless children”, “the last come first”.
– We thought that certain people were the “least”. Now we realise they were sacred, divine in fact, since what we did to them we did to Christ and what we refused them we refused to Christ.

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at Rome's Casal del Marmo prison for minors 28/3/14
Pope Francis washes the foot of a prison inmate during the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Rome’s Casal del Marmo prison for minors.
We thought that we met Christ by doing extraordinary things. Now we realise that it was in very mundane things, giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison.
– We thought we met Christ in moments of prayer or in holy places. Now we realise that we meet him when we feed and clothe those in need, when we visit hospitals and prisons.
– We realise that leadership in religious organisations counts for nothing before God. In his judgement, the only thing that counts is humble service.

As always in the bible, the judgement causes two reactions and we have experienced them both at different times:
– wonderful relief at knowing we were right. Good actions which we (and others who had power over us – “chief priests and elders”) looked on as trivial were in fact truly great, recognised in the presence of God (and of all right thinking people) and never to be forgotten. It is a homecoming experience, we “take for our heritage the kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world”.
– terrible sadness when we realise that we have missed the boat – like the foolish bridesmaids of two weeks ago. We are consumed by remorse, “the eternal fire”. The contrast with the virtuous is striking; for them it was a homecoming, whereas these feel deep alienation – the fire was “prepared for the devil and his angels”, they “go away” to their fate.

As on the past two Sundays, we remember the context of this teaching. Jesus’ imminent crucifixion  would be a “judgement moment” in that it broke down all barriers:
– the humblest person there was the Son of God,
– the holy place was outside the city,
– the person  of faith was a Roman soldier.
In those degrading circumstances, the “son of man” was present “in his glory escorted by all the angels, with all the nations assembled before him”. We remember experiences which seemed to be disasters but in fact were judgement moments showing us how wrong our values were.

We note once more the down-to-earthness of Jesus’ judgement. The sign that we have met him is that we discern between good and evil, “goats and sheep are separated; one placed on the right, the other on the left”.
His teaching is not airy fairy  – “you must live with the consequences of your actions”. “Good news” is implied however – “other chances will arise so don’t miss out next time”.


 Scriptural Prayer


       “It is we who lose when we allow the venom of hatred and revenge to circulate through our spiritual veins.”  ….Archbishop Pantin of Port of Spain, Trinidad
forgive
Lord, forgive us that in times of great crisis – national or personal –
we become vengeful,
wanting to consign people to the eternal fire
prepared for the devils and his angels.
Help us to wait for the day when the Son of Man comes to his glory,
escorted by all the angels, takes his seat on his throne of glory,
with all the nations assembled before him,
and separates good from evil, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

Lord, we tend to think of you sitting passively on your throne,
indifferent to what is going on in the world.
But whenever we enter your presence, it is always an experience of discernment,
of goodness being put on one side of you and evil on the other,
like sheep being separated from goats.

Lord, we thank you for those beautiful moments when we relieved someone’s pain.
– Someone was hungry and we gave them food, thirsty and we gave them drink;
– we clothed someone naked, made a stranger welcome;
– visited one who was sick, went to see a prisoner.
Quite suddenly it dawned on us that we had experienced a blessed moment,
had a personal meeting with you and had come to the best of ourselves;
we had taken possession of a kingdom that had been prepared for us
since the foundation of the world.

Lord, part of each one of us has no compassion,
can see the hungry and never give them food,
see the thirsty and never give them anything to drink,
never wants to make strangers welcome, clothe the naked,
or visit the sick and those in prison.
Sometimes this part of ourselves seems very influential,
but it is not the truth of ourselves;
it is evil, destined for the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Lord, a moment of grace is like coming home,
entering a kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world.
Thank you, Lord.

“We can never really love others unless we feel a certain reverence towards them.”…Cardinal Newman Lord, help us to move from helping the poor with condescension
to experiencing that to do a favour to one of the least of our brothers and sisters
is to be given the privilege of doing it to you.

Lord, we thank you for those who are grateful to us.
So often all we did was to help them in some basic way,
but they make us feel that we looked after you
and now deserve to be put on your right side,

Lord, we have to make a journey in our relationship with you.
At first, we think that we will draw close to you by doing plenty of “holy” duties.
Then we realise that you want us to be free and spontaneous,
just to be compassionate, and leave judgement to you.

 “The abdication by the Christian churches of one whole department of life, that of social and political conduct, as the sphere of the powers of this world and of them alone, is one of the capital revolutions through which the human spirit has passed.”  R.H. Tawney
boy-and-cross-of-jesus
Lord, we pray that your Church will always proclaim Jesus’ teaching
that when the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels,
to take his seat on his throne of glory
with all the nations assembled before him,
his judgement will be based on whether the hungry were given food
and the thirsty were given drink,
whether strangers were made welcome, the naked clothed,
and whether the sick and those in prison were visited,
because when these things are done to the least of his brothers and sisters
they are done to him.

“Christ himself wishes to be identified with and recognised in every refugee.”  …Pope John Paul II
Lord, we thank you for those who make strangers to their country welcome.
In doing so, they are welcoming you.

“Why can’t Christians see the poor wounded part inside themselves?
       Can they not see Jesus there? Why do they always have to see Jesus
       outside themselves?”  ….Carl Jung
Lord, we thank you for those people who have helped us to see  that this passage speaks of what is naked within ourselves and needs to be clothed,
of the stranger in us needing to be made welcome,
the sick and the prisoner within us who must be visited.

*********************************************************
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.
forgivness
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




Homily Notes
1. One of the most lyrical passages in the whole liturgy is the preface for this day. It was produced in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, and appeared with the institution of this feast in 1925. It is a masterpiece of theology that, in many respects, anticipated the theology of the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. However, it is rarely heard, and when it is heard each year on this feast it can be lost, as many prefaces are, as it is just a brief interlude between the bustle of the’ offertory’ and the more serious-minded tone of the prayer after the Sanctus.
At the end of the liturgical cycle there is a note of reflection, on what has happened and on the End-times, in today’s liturgy and this can be fostered by replacing a preached homily with a reflection on this preface.
2. The simplest way is just to draw it to the assembly’s attention, and then just read through it slowly, line-by-line.
3. One can add a commentary, but care has to be exercised that commentary does not take over from reflection. There is a thin line between the helpful comment aiding reflection and the series of glosses on the way towards the lecture.
4. Such a reflection, given the nature of the text, has an additional effect: it produces a nice, quiet way to end the Year ­next week the liturgy will be all agog as everyone starts thinking of Christmas.
****************************************************************
John Littleton
Gospel Reflection



What do we think about how we will be judged when we die and about the general judgement at the end of the world? Do we, for example, believe in heaven as a state of eternal happiness in God’s presence and in hell as a state of eternal alienation (and, in this sense, damnation) from God? These may seem rather gloomy questions but they are the questions that must be asked after reading the parable about the Son of Man coming to separate the virtuous from the wicked as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.
heaven-hell
Many people no longer believe in life after death or in the existence of heaven. They insist that earthly life is the only life and that there is nothing after death. Some Christians — who are meant to believe in life after death — query the existence of hell. They argue that if God is all loving and compassionate, then God will save everyone from the consequences of their sins and ensure that they will be in heaven. How could such a merciful God not save everyone?
However, there is a fallacy in this argument. It disregards the uncompromising words spoken by Jesus in the parable. This argument also ignores a basic Christian belief regarding free will. While God certainly desires that all people would share eternity in heaven, he respects our freedom and accepts the outcomes of our choices and decisions.
If we knowingly and freely ignore the fundamental needs for sustenance, kindness, well-being and friendship of other people we meet, we are making a statement about our selfishness and self-interest. In deciding not to respond to these people, we are also deciding not to respond to God who lives in them. We disregard those people who need our help and encouragement.
 
In effect, we are judging ourselves to be self-centred rather than God-centred, to be uncaring and indifferent. If such practices continue throughout our lives without repentance, we will be judged accordingly when we die. If we opt not to respond to God during this life, then why would we opt to respond to God in the next life? Thus we will be our own judges on the day of general judgement.
In other words, we are largely in control of our own eternal destiny. Blaming God or God’s harsh judgement will be futile if heaven is not to be our final destiny. We will not be able to claim astonishment about our ultimate fate because we ourselves will already have determined that fate by our attitudes and behaviour during this life.
In summary, there are two basic types of people in the world: those who care about God and others, and those who focus their attention solely on themselves. To which type do we belong? Jesus taught that when we help the needy we are actually helping him. That is why when Mother Teresa of Calcutta was asked how she could touch a disease-ridden man, she said that she was not touching him but touching Jesus.
Are we ready for judgement? If we consistently ignore Christ in this life, on the Last Day he will be consistent and treat us likewise. Remember that while our salvation depends on the grace of Christ, it also depends on our choices during this life.


For meditation
He will take his seat on his throne of glory … and he will separate men from one another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. (Mt 25:32)

*******************************************
Donal Neary 
The ‘I’ word!

We know this story well. The most important word in it is ‘I’. Jesus identifies himself with the people he is talking about. He doesn’t say people were in prison and you visited them, or sick or naked. He says I who am in prison, sick or naked. It’s even more than being a brother or sister of Jesus. He identifies with each of us especially in need. Created as we are in the image of God, Jesus sees right through us to see God. God is the divine life of God in each person.
That makes the difference.We don’t help the needy person only because he or she is needy, but because each is in the image of God and Jesus sees him or her and says ‘that’s me.’
This can be a programme for life. For the young – can yo make a decision for your life that includes deep care from your love of those in need? For those in their busy lives already and who have chosen their way – how can you show deep care for those in need. For the elderly – can you pray for those in need each day and encourage those more active to care for them?
***
From the Connections:

THE WORD:
Matthew’s is the only description of the Last Judgment in any of the Gospels.  It is Jesus’ last discourse recorded by Matthew before the events of the Passion begin to unfold.  In the vision he presents in today’s Gospel, Christ is the king who sits in judgment “as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.”   Mercy and charity will be the standards for determining one’s entry into the future kingdom of God.

HOMILY POINTS:
Christ the Shepherd-King clearly and unequivocally identifies himself with the poor.  Our “greatness” lies in our ability to reach beyond ourselves to bring justice, peace and reconciliation into the lives of everyone. 
Mother Teresa of Calcutta put today’s Gospel theme so succinctly when she said:  “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.  We will be judged by I was hungry and you gave me to eat . . . I was naked and you clothed me . . . I was homeless and you took me in.  Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love; naked not only of clothing -- but naked of human dignity and respect; homeless not only for want of a room of bricks, but homeless because of rejection.  This is Christ in distressing disguise.”
In nations ruled by a royal family, the concept of monarchy is based on two premises: that the king rules by “divine right,” that is, by the authority of God; and that the character of the entire nation is vested in their king, sometimes expressed in the idea of the sovereign being the “father” of his children, the governed.  In this light, Christ is indeed King.  Jesus is the anointed one of God, the Christus, the Messiah raised up by the Father.  And he is the very essence of his people, the Church.  His Gospel is the bond that unites us as Church; the Eucharist, his body, gives life to that Church. 
To claim that Christ is our “King,” to proclaim ourselves to be “Christians,” demands a clear and conscious decision by each of us, not passive compliance to a “herd” spirituality.  To truly celebrate this feast means to welcome Christ not just into the compartments and slots of our lifestyles marked “religion” but into every thread and fiber of the fabric of our lives.

The “poor door”
In New York City, housing is very expensive.  In order to provide affordable housing for the low-income, working poor, the city has set up the Inclusionary Housing Program:  Construction companies are given generous subsidies and tax breaks if their buildings include a certain percentage of low-income apartments, in addition to its high-rent luxury apartments.
One company’s recent application included an interesting — and cynical — provision:  In their proposed building, people residing in the more affordable apartments would have their own entryway — in a back alley behind the building.

A company spokesman explained:  “No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations . . . I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in the building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.”
A pastor of a church in Manhattan reacts to the plan:
“Predictably, news of the poor door has ignited flames of outrage.  But they’ll die down.  The poor doors in luxury buildings are just the latest manifestation of what goes on every day.  Our systems of health care, education, immigration, and criminal justice all have their poor doors in the back alleys of edifices built for the more privileged.”
[From “The poor door” by Heidi Neumark, The Christian Century, October 1, 2014.]
 
The fact is that Jesus himself comes and goes through such “poor doors,” that Christ dwells in those low-income apartments.  In the kingdom of God, there are not front-door people and back-door people.  In the reign of Christ, all are welcomed through the front door, all have a place at the banquet table of heaven, all stand before God humbly and gratefully as children of the Father.  In the parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus the Shepherd-King calls us to see him in the faces of the poor, the hungry, the needy, the lost.  Our care for the poor, our work to alleviate poverty and injustice in our communities, our holding ourselves accountable for creating more opportunities for the under-educated and under-employed is our first and most meaningful response to our baptismal call to proclaim the coming of God’s Kingdom in his Christ.  On this last Sunday of the church year, may we embrace God’s vision of his creation and our place in it; may God’s spirit instill in us the compassion and wisdom to recognize every human being as the manifestation of God’s life and love in our midst.  
***
ILLUSTRATIONS: 

1.     Fr. Jude Botelho 

In our present times we do not make much of royalty and we have discarded the trappings and structures of royalty in favour of democracy. Yet we admire people who are loyal and faithful to lawfully constituted authority. Today we are reminded that God is the ultimate authority and He commands our respect and loyalty not because he exercises power over us but because He constantly cares for us. We can show our loyalty to Him by respecting and caring for His people, our brothers and sisters. 

Have a renewing weekend, rededicating our lives to His Kingdom! 

Reflection
 
In the first reading, Ezekiel likens God to a shepherd, who tenderly looks after his sheep, He is always watching over them, and protects them especially when they are in danger. The readings of the day remind us both of God’s care and of God’s expectations of us His people, who belong to His flock. This shepherd does not control or force us to follow him yet at the same time if we are on His side then we must be like our shepherd, caring, and loving. We may give up on God but God never abandons us. 

If only I knew it was you!

 Nelson Mandela was still a young man when he became leader of the banned African National Congress. At a certain stage of the struggle he was forced to go underground. He used many disguises and in general remained as unkempt as possible, so that he would not be easily recognized. Once he was to attend a meeting in a distant part of Johannesburg. A priest had arranged with friends of his to put him up for the night. However, when Mandela arrived at the house, the elderly woman who answered the doorbell took one look at him and exclaimed, “We don’t want your kind here!” And she shut the door in his face. Later when she found out who it was she had turned away she was horrified and said to him, “If only I knew it was you, I’d have given you the best room in the house.” Mandela did not let incidents like this deter him.

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’ 

The Gospel puts before us the other side of the picture. While God is ever caring and watchful over us He wants us to listen to him, to heed his voice and follow his example. In any organization, if we want to belong to it then we have to live according to its practice, precepts and policies. We are told in no uncertain terms that the only criterion by which we will be judged is whether we have loved our brothers and sisters. The yard stick is something tangible: “What you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me!” Have we cared for others, have we shown our love in action. What matters is not doing great things, spectacular deeds that will be noticed by others, but the small things often unnoticed that we do for those in need. We will be judged by what we have done as well as by what we have not done.  Sometimes we look at ourselves and say we are pretty good because we have not done anything bad. But have we done the good we could have done? Saying the kind word, lending a helping hand, finding time for others in spite of being busy, cheering up those who are depressed, visiting the friendless, writing or phoning those who are alone, appreciating the many good things that people do for us…. The list of small things can be endless! People ask: “Where can I find God? What should I do to find Him? The answer is simple: He is to be found in the poor, the weak, the needy, the helpless, and in those who take care of these people. 

The beggar King

 There is an old Irish legend that tells of a king who had no children to succeed him on the throne. So he had his messengers post signs in every town and village of his kingdom inviting qualified young men to apply for an interview with the king. Two qualifications especially were stressed: The person must have a deep love for God and for his neighbour. The young man around whom the legend centres saw one of these signs. He believed he had the necessary qualifications and he felt an inner calling to apply for an interview. But the young man was so poor he did not have decent clothes to wear for the interview. He also had no money to buy provisions for the long journey to the king’s castle. He decided to beg for clothes and the provisions he needed. When everything was ready he set out. After a month’s travel, one day the man caught sight of the king’s castle. At about the same time he also caught sight of a poor old beggar sitting by the side of the road. The beggar held out his hands and pleaded for help. “I’m cold and hungry,” he said in a weak voice. “Could you give me something to eat and something to wear?” The young man was moved by the sight of the beggar. He stripped off his warm outer clothes and exchanged them for the old tattered coat of the beggar. He also gave the beggar most of the provisions he had been carrying in his backpack for the return journey. Then, somewhat uncertainly he walked on to the castle. The guards met him and took him to the visitors’ area. After a long wait he was led to the king. He bowed before the throne. When he straightened up, he could hardly believe his eyes. He said to the king, “You were the beggar besides the road. Why’d you do this to me?” “I had to find out,” said the king, “if you really did love God and neighbour”

Mark Link in ‘Sunday Homilies’ 

Lord and King

 Once a soldier was taken before the Roman magistrate. His crime was that of being a Christian. The magistrate asked him, “Are you a Christian?” The Christian soldier replied, “Yes.” The magistrate enquired, “If so, are you the enemy of Caesar?” The Christian replied, “No.” “Then you must offer incense to the image of Caesar”, said the magistrate. The Christian replied boldly, “I refused to offer any incense to Caesar. God and God alone must be adored and worshipped. Jesus alone is my God and I love and worship Him alone.” The magistrate threatened saying. “If you refuse I will sever your head from your body.” The Christian boldly replied, “You may cut off my head from my shoulder, but you cannot separate my heart from my King and God – Jesus Christ.” The Christian was decapitated.

John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’ 

The King and I

 In the famous 1956 film, ‘The King and I’ transposed into a musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the King of Siam entrusts his many children to the care of governess Anna. Christ the King and I, too, are involved in a love-story. Jesus entrusts his children into my care. How do I respond to the King and his little ones? “Here is your footstool and there rest your feet where live the poorest, the lowliest and the lost,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore in the Gitanjali. May I love The King in that beggar at my doorstep that I might be worthy of his kingdom.

Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’ 

Go right in…

There was a queue of people outside the gates of heaven.  Each person was asked the question: ‘Why do you think you should be admitted?’ The first person in the queue, a very religious man, said, ‘I studied the Bible every day.’ ‘Very good,’ said the Lord. ‘However, we’ll have to carry out an investigation to see why you studied the Bible.  So please step aside for a moment.’ The second was a very pious woman who said, ‘Lord, I said my prayers every day without fail.’ ‘Very good,’ the Lord answered. ‘However, we’ll have to see if your motives were pure. So step aside for a moment.’ Then an innkeeper approached.  He just said, ‘Lord, on earth I wasn’t a very religious man, but my door was always open to the homeless, and I never refused food to anyone who was hungry.’ ‘Very good,’ said the Lord. ‘In your case no investigation is needed. Go right in.’

Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ 

What are you?

 A young teacher with obvious liberal tendencies explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist; that she doesn’t believe in the existence of God. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is, but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like flash fireworks. There is however, one exception. A beautiful little girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. “Because I am not an atheist.” Then, asks the teacher, “What are you?” “I’m a Christian.” The teacher is a little disturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian. “Well I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.” The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if you mom was an idiot and your dad was an idiot. What would you be then?” Lucy paused and smiled and said, “Then I would be an atheist!”

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’ 

Christ the King

 In 1903, people of Silao in Mexico erected a 30 feet high statue of Christ the king. The statue looked at the city with love and expectation. The revolutionaries destroyed the statue. The people of Silao put the pieces and the bits together and rebuilt the statue again which brought peace, joy and happiness to the nation. Jesus came to build the Kingdom of God but his adversaries destroyed it. The disciples, the messengers of Christ are called to rebuild the Kingdom of God. The feast of Christ the King teaches us to serve Christ in our fellow creatures here and now with love and complete dedication.

Elias Dias in ‘Divine Stories for families’
 
In all things may we be gentle and loving like Christ our Shepherd King! 

2.     From the Sermons.com 

Like it or not, judgment is a fact of life. That is true whether we are talking about the histories of nations or the events of our own personal life. If we break the law, then society will judge us. If we live immorally -- drink too much, engage in sexual promiscuity, live a lifestyle of constant stress -- then our bodies will judge us. We simply cannot escape judgment in life.

Jesus rarely spoke about the final judgment, but on one occasion he did paint a picture for us in one of his stories. The parable that I just read gives a strong jolt to those who are heavy on doctrine but short on ethics.

A shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, said Jesus, so too shall there be a great division on the final day. Those on the right hand will be allowed entrance into the kingdom, while those on the left will be denied it. And the great surprise is that those who thought they were religious turn out to be not as good as they thought, and those who thought they failed were told they did a better job than they supposed.

I would like to suggest three points that this parable is attempting to make this morning... 

1. We Are to View Each Individual As if They Are Christ.
2. The End Criteria Will Be Simple Acts of Kindness.
3. We Are Judged by the Good We Do Not Do.
___________________________
There are two types of students. There are those students who jump for joy when they hear the words "take home final." And there are those students who are not thrilled with joy but filled with dread when they hear the words "take home final." 

At first blush it seems a no-brainer. Who wouldn't prefer a take home exam? There is no time crunch. There is unlimited access to resources for checking facts and figures. There is the ability to modify, or even completely change, responses after thinking about them for a while. 

But the students who dread the take home final know there is a down side to all those benefits. With all that extra time and unlimited information and fluid flexibility, there come greater expectations. With a take home final there is never a firm answer to how much more the instructor expects. 

Instead of a quick couple paragraphs, obviously a longer, more extensive, more exhaustive presentation is rightly required. With access to unlimited resources who is to say how many examples are "enough" to prove your point? An exam given in a closed class room for an hour or two puts all students at the same advantages and disadvantages. It's a level playing field. A "take home final" by definition will be "taken" at a different "home" by each student. A "take home final" forces students to take their exam in their individual real words - whatever those worlds might be like. 

Why is it that we are always warned "don't take your work home with you"? That caution is not about teachers correcting papers on the living room couch or real estate agents updating their listings online while watching Sunday night football. "Don't take your work home with you" is our attempt to draw a line between who we are in one part of our life versus who we are in another part of our lives. "Don't' take your work home with you" tries to disconnect what we do 9-5 from who we are 5-9. 

For Jesus' disciples that is impossible. In today's gospel text Jesus makes it clear that Christian life comes with a "take home final"...
 _______________________
 Mommy, I'm Hungry 

It's been years, but I remember Fred Craddock telling of the time he attended a conference on hunger. Influential, knowledgeable speakers had been brought in from all over to talk on the subject. Near the end of the conference, Fred says, a young, willowy woman got up to speak. Her long straight hair fell down her back, almost to her waist. She carried a legal pad to the podium and began reading.

At first, Craddock says, he couldn't follow what she was saying. Eventually, it dawned on him, as it did all the other listeners. She was reading the same sentence over and over, each time in a different language. Finally, at the very end, she spoke the sentence in English. All the time she was saying, "Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy, I'm hungry."

She was the most powerful speaker of the entire conference, Craddock says. At least, she had the most impact upon him. As he and his group drove back to Atlanta, alongside the highway he read a billboard he had seen numerous times. Before, he had hardly even noticed it. This time he did. It said, "All You Can Eat Buffet, $4.99." This time, Craddock says, that message seemed to him to be obscene.

Guilt can be a powerful motivator.

Randy L. Hyde, The Scavenger Hunt

___________________________
The Long Reach of an Act of Kindness
 

Alex Haley, the author of Roots tells the story of how his father had his life changed by a simple act of kindness: 

He was the youngest of eight children, living as a sharecropping family.  Everyone in the family was needed to help with the crops.  After several years of schooling the family pressed each child into service on the farm. Fortunately the boy's mother intervened on behalf of her child and was allowed to stay in school. When he was ready for college he chose the Lane Institute, working as many as four jobs in addition to full-time studies.  It was all physically and emotionally wearing.

He worked for a summer as a porter on a train and happened to meet a man early in the morning who couldn't sleep and wanted to talk.  This man was impressed by a black porter working to earn money for college and tipped him the unimaginable sum of five dollars.

By the end of the summer Mr. Haley had to decide whether to convert his summer earnings into a mule and begin to sharecrop, or to stretch to complete his last year at school.  He took the risk of competing college.  

Alex Haley tells us what happened next: "When Dad arrived on campus, the president called him into his office and showed him a letter he had just received.  The letter was from the elderly man whom my father had met on the train, and it contained a check for $518 to cover Dad's tuition and living expenses for one full year." The kindness of an unknown friend made all the difference in the life of Alex Haley's father, Alex Haley himself, and every succeeding generation of that family.

As a person who has been in just a minor degree of need, I know what the acts of love and care performed by virtual strangers can mean.

Richard J. Fairchild, When Lord, Did We See You
_______________________
 Virtue in Anxious Times

 Anxiety's central message is that we cannot afford to share because we can never have enough. Put more strongly, in a culture marked by anxiety and fear, the very things we have traditionally called sins or vices (hoarding, greed, suspicion) become wise and prudent virtues. Fear, rather than love, governs our lives. But such fear is a kind of idolatry because it suggests we are giving more attention to our own security than we are giving to God. As Scott Bader-Saye warns, "the ethic of security produces a skewed moral vision. It suggests that suspicion, preemption, and accumulation are virtues insofar as they help us feel safe. But when seen from a Christian perspective, such 'virtues' fail to be true virtues, since they do not orient us to the true good-love of God and neighbor. In fact, they turn us away from the true good, tempting us to love safety more than we love God." 

The "human way out" of the despair of our age is through hospitality because a person well practiced in Christian hospitality chooses love over fear, trust over suspicion, and even risk over security. 

Paul J. Wadell, Toward a Welcoming Congregation
________________________
 The Weakest Link 

From time to time, I have both revealed my true age and tested the outer limits of your memory by talking about the games I once played as a child. But, to my knowledge, I never once mentioned that grand old standby of playgrounds everywhere, "Red Rover." 

Start with two teams. Could be five to a team. Could be ten to a team. Red Rover is one game where almost any number can play. Call one team "Team A." The other, "Team B." String each team into a line. Have each line face each other, several yards apart. Encourage each team's members to join hands or link arms... whatever it takes to unify the line and make it solid. Then have Team A single out one member of Team B to test the strength of that linkage. 

Together, Team A calls across the playground divide: "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy cross over." At which point, Billy (from his position on Team B) sucks in his breath, marshals his adrenaline, engages his feet and runs pell-mell toward Team A's line, trying to break through. If Billy can't... break through, I mean... then he is captured and must remain a member of Team A. If, however, Billy does manage to break through, then he selects a member of Team A... usually the strongest and fastest member of Team A... to take back home and join Team B. The game goes on until one team is out of players. Or until recess ends. 

Some schools, I am told, now forbid the playing of Red Rover on the grounds that it has the potential to become overly rough and violent. Truth be told, I suspect most kids play it anyway. 

As a kid, I quickly learned that, in playing Red Rover, my head was as important as my body. When the opposing team called, "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Billy cross over," they were counting on the fact that they would be able to keep my body from penetrating their line... given that I clearly and obviously lacked the girth then that I possess now. They had absolutely no respect for my physical prowess... failing to see in me the athletic behemoth I would one day become. 

But while I may have been spindly, I was far from stupid. I knew I did not have to overwhelm all 20 kids in that line. I only had to overwhelm one... or at most, two. Somewhere in that line, there had to be... just had to be... two kids whose linked arms were scrawnier than my chest. So after isolating them, I ran at them, through them, or over them. Whatever it took. For I learned, early in life, that Team A's line was only as strong as its weakest link.

 That was shortly before I learned that if we are all created equal, it is only at the point of opportunity, and seldom (if ever) at the point of ability. I remember long years of my life when I would have gladly traded the things I was good at, for even one of the things I wasn't. I would have willingly accepted C's on my report card in return for the ability to hit a curve ball. And 12 years of violin training I would have ditched in a heartbeat for the knowledge that I could beat up Frankie Paciero (if necessary) or turn the head of sweet Janie Swift. To be sure, I had a couple of ten-talent chips in my genetic poker hand. But for years, I didn't know what they were and wouldn't have valued them if I had. 

The weakest link. In some setting... on some day... in some endeavor... that's going to be every one of us. 

William A Ritter, www.Sermons.com
_____________________________
 A Small Act of Kindness 

Let me suggest that you try something that never gets old or stale or unsatisfying. Do something for somebody truly in need. 

Let me tell you about a man named Floyd. According to the standards of the world Floyd was nobody. Floyd traveled around the country looking for work at harvest time. Floyd had no home and no place to go. A couple invited him into their home and gave him a home-cooked dinner. Floyd said very little as they ate. The wife, Nancy, offered to wash his clothes for him but Floyd declined the offer. He picked cherries in the orchard next to their home that day and slept under the trees that gave him his livelihood. 

Early the next morning Floyd returned to the couple who had shown him kindness. While he finished one last project in the orchard, Nancy, on an impulse, wrote him a letter telling of God's love. Then she tucked it with a little cash into a New Testament. She found his backpack in the yard, and stuck the packet inside. She imagined him traveling that day looking for work and at the end of the day bedding down somewhere under the stars, weary and all alone. She was warmed by the thought of Floyd's surprise when he discovered her note, the New Testament and the cash she had planted in his backpack. 

This Christian couple never saw Floyd again. Four years later Floyd's sister wrote to the them, telling of his death. As Floyd's sister was going through his few belongings she found the New Testament and the letter Nancy wrote telling of God's love. "They must have been very dear to his heart," Floyd's sister concluded, "for he carried them with him until he died."

It was such a simple gesture " a note, a Bible and a little cash " but little counts for a lot in the kingdom of God. I don't know about you, but I want to be surprised at finding myself among the sheep on that day of judgment. More importantly, want to possess a faith that's real. I want to take advantage of one of the most joyous opportunities Christ gives us, to minister to him. 

Nancy Leman, Traveling Friend, Adapted by King Duncan, www.Sermons.com
 _____________________________
 I Kept an Open Door 

A Jewish story goes: I went up to Heaven in a dream and stood at the Gates of Paradise in order to observe the procedure of the Heavenly Tribunal. I watched as a learned Rabbi approached and wished to enter. "Day and night," he said, "I studied the Holy Torah."

 "Wait," said the Angel. "We will investigate whether your study was for its own sake or whether it was a matter of profession and for the sake of honors. 

A Righteous Person [a Zaddik] next approached. "I fasted much," he said, "I underwent many ritual cleansings; I studied the Zohar the mystical commentary on the Torah day and night."

"Wait," said the Angel, "until we have completed our investigation to learn whether you motives were pure." 

Then a tavern-keeper drew near. "I kept an open door and fed without charge every poor man who came into my inn," he said. 

The Heavenly Portals were opened to him. 

Rabbi Aaron Leib of Primishlan, as quoted in Abraham Karp, The Jewish Way of Life and Thought, New York: KTAV Publishing Inc., 1981, p.177 
________________________________
A Deep Love for God, A Deep Love for Neighbors 

There is an Irish legend about a king, who had no children to succeed him on the throne. So, he had his messengers post signs in every town and village of his kingdom inviting qualified young men to apply for an interview with the king. This way the king hoped to be able to choose a successor before he died. 

Two qualifications, especially, were stressed. The person must have a deep love for God and a deep love for his neighbor. 

A young man saw one of the signs. He indeed had a deep love for God and neighbor. He felt a kind of inner voice telling him to apply for an interview.

But the young man was so poor that he didn't have decent clothes to wear to an interview. He also didn't have any money to buy provisions for the long journey to the king's castle.

So the young man prayed over the matter. He finally decided to beg for the clothes and the provisions he needed. When everything was ready, he set out. After a month of travel, one day the young man caught sight of the king's castle. It sat high on a hill in the distance.

At about the same time, he also caught sight of a poor old beggar sitting by the side of the road. The beggar held out his hands and pleaded for help. "I'm hungry and cold," he said in a weak voice. "Could you give me something warm to wear and something nourishing to eat?"

The sight of the beggar moved the young man. He stripped off his warm outer clothes and exchanged them for the tattered old coat of the beggar. He also gave the beggar most of the provisions he had been carrying in his backpack for the return journey. Then, somewhat uncertainly, he walked on to the castle in tattered clothes and without enough food for his return trip...
*******
3. From Fr. Tony Kadavil's Collection:

“He is something more than a king.”
In Lloyd Douglas’ book, The Robe, the slave, Demetrius, pushed his way through the crowd on Palm Sunday, trying to see who the center of attraction was. He got close enough to look upon the face of Jesus. Later another slave asked, “See him – close up?” Demetrius nodded. “Crazy?” Demetrius shook his head emphatically. “King! No,” muttered Demetrius, “not a king.” “What is he then?” demanded the other slave. “I don’t know,” mumbled Demetrius, “but he is something more than a king.”

“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)

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.’ "


"Regem habemus"
About three centuries ago, Spaniards besieged a small French town, St. Quentin. The city walls were in ruins; fever and famine plagued the people. One day the Spaniards shot over the walls a shower of arrows to which were attached little slips of parchment promising that if they surrendered, their lives and property would be spared. The mayor of the town was a devout Huguenot. For answer, he tied a piece of parchment to a javelin and hurled it back to the Spaniards. On the parchment was the message: "Regem habemus" -- "We have a king!" Christians also can say, "We have a King." Jesus is our King. We belong to his Kingdom.

Mother Teresa & Leo Tolstoy who recognized the king in disguise:

The story is told of Mother Teresa of Calcutta observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm's length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, "You don't understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to him." Or again, Leo Tolstoy's story "Martin the Cobbler" tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day, he awaits his arrival. But all that comes is a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking "perhaps tomorrow he will come," only to hear a voice reply, "I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times." Christ is a king who goes about in disguise as the poor, the sick, the cripples, the tortured, the marginalized.

INRI:

A Jewish boy was lazy in his studies and misbehaved in the public school. So his parents enrolled him in a Catholic school to see if he would improve. His parents were surprised to observe that the boy stopped his excessive watching of TV, limited his time on computer games and spent most of his time in studies. At the end of the year, he was the best student in class. His baffled parents asked him what had happened. "The first day I went to school," he explained, "and saw that man hanging on a plus sign at the main entrance of the school building, I knew you couldn't fool around here and get away with it.” Today’s gospel reminds us that the man on the cross is not an object to frighten naughty kids, but our king and savior who died for us promising us eternal life, and who will come in glory to judge the world on the day of the Last Judgment.

Jesse Owens challenging Adolf Hitler:


The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer's authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the U.S.A. He was aptly called "the fastest human alive." Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his "Aryan race" of "supermen" would conquer the world. In implementing his theory he began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks, Negroes as they were called then, as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler's claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we give allegiance. We owe our allegiance to Christ the King who redeemed us by shedding his blood.

"Super Savior"--

A church in Ohio did it with a large icon--a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus with upraised arms, installed in a cornfield just north of Monroe, Ohio on Interstate 75. The statue--dubbed "Super Savior"-- was erected by the Solid Rock Church, in Middletown. Here is what is interesting. Traffic fatalities on this notorious stretch of road have dropped dramatically since the Super Savior statue was raised. Is that pure coincidence or has the Styrofoam and fiberglass Christ really aided road safety? Nobody knows. (Dr. John Bardsley, National Catholic Reporter, 10-28-2005, p. 3). Certainly a giant statue of Christ does no harm, and if it improves traffic, that's fine. But do not be confused. This is not the best way to express our allegiance to Christ. The best way to express our allegiance to Christ is to make our lives worthy of the name Christian.

Feast of Christ the King:

 In 1925 Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this is Christ's world, not the property of the emerging dictators of that day. Mussolini had been in power for three years. Adolf Hitler had been out of jail only a year, and was finding great popular support for his fledgling Nazi party. The pope had the courage of his convictions to declare, despite dictators, that Christ was King, reminding Christians where their ultimate loyalty lay! (From a sermon by Don Friesen, Ottawa Mennonite Church).

Unfinished work:

A newspaper story, some time back, recorded the grim incident of a police officer shot and killed in the line of duty. His great desire before he was killed was to see his family's back yard completely landscaped, a desire he never saw fulfilled because of the bullet that ended his life. Some of his fellow officers, who had grown to love their fallen comrade, donated their time and money to complete the work. Because it was the policeman's desire to finish the project it became his friends' desire. (Allen Hadidian, Discipleship, Chicago: Moody Press, 1987). To those of us who love Jesus Christ and accept him as the king of our lives, the application is clear. What He loved and desired, we should love and desire and work to complete. His work is to see lost men saved and built up. His work is to see this world redeemed. His work is to see this unfinished world be brought to completion. We who love Him are called to complete the task.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the PAX ROMANA, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years was initiated. It was he who ordered the building of roads linking the great empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: "In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born the One who was far greater than he. He was the one who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer always referred to Jesus as "His Majesty," and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.

The forgiving King:

Rev. Tony Campolo says that in his teenage years he was terrified by a visiting pastor's depiction of Judgment Day. This pastor claimed that one day God would show us a movie of every single sinful thought, word, or action we ever committed. And he ended his lurid description with the announcement, "And your mother will be there!" But Tony claims that Judgment Day will more closely mirror what happened during the trials over the Watergate scandal. The prosecutor brought in a tape of a conversation between Nixon and his aides. Just at the most crucial part of the tape, the section that revealed their crimes, there was an eighteen minute gap of silence. Nixon's faithful secretary, Rosemary Wood, had erased the incriminating evidence! In the same way, Campolo says, Jesus will erase all the incriminating evidence against us as he did to the repentant thief crucified at his right side.

You're with Him; go on in."

A few years ago, Pastor Erwin Lutzer and his daughters were visiting Washington, D.C. While there, they met a man who had served on former President Bush's secret-service security team. The gentleman offered to give them a guided tour of the Oval Office. Pastor Lutzer and his daughters passed through many security checkpoints the next day on the way to the Oval Office. At each checkpoint, they expected to be searched and questioned. But instead, the guards took one glance at the secret-service man and announced, "You are with him; go on in." Pastor Lutzer wrote that he expects our entrance into heaven will be like that. We will have no credentials of our own that could possibly get us in. But Jesus will be walking along beside us. And at each gate, the angels will take one look at Jesus and announce, "You're with Him; go on in." (2. "Do Many Paths Lead into God's Presence?" By Erwin Lutzer, Preaching Magazine, Mar./Apr. 2001, p. 20).

King who conquered death:


Worldly kings do not have this power. Their last enemy is death which ends their power, wealth, and prestige. In Vienna there is a crypt under a Capuchin church. In this crypt are buried 140 kings, queens, princes, and princesses. Each sarcophagus is sculptured in steel. The largest is a double tomb for Maria Theresa and her husband. On each sarcophagus is carved a cross and the king's or queen's crown. On each corner of one sarcophagus is a skull wearing a crown. The message is clear: Death is king! Even kings are conquered by death. But the kings of God's realm live in spite of death. As kings, we Christians need have no fear of death, for by the power of the cross, death was defeated. (L/10)

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."

 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)

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."

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)

“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

28- Additional anecdotes

1) King of kings and Lord of lords.
 
Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years, was initiated. It was Augustus who ordered the building of roads linking the colonies of the great Empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of Emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title Emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil, and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: "In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2:1) Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born One who was far greater than he. He was the One Who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"  (John 18:33). Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer, always referred to Jesus as "His Majesty," and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.  " 

2) King with a difference:
 
In the year 200AD Jingo, the Empress of Japan, invaded Korea. Following the defeat, the Korean king placed valuable treasures before the empress and promised to pay “homage and send tribute until the sun no longer rises in the East, but comes from the West; until the courses of the rivers turn backwards and the river pebbles ascend and become stars in Heaven”. When Queen Sheba visited King Solomon, she crossed the Sahara desert into Israel with more than 797 camels, donkeys and mules too numerous to count. She gave the king 120 talents of gold, very great store of spices and precious stones. The value of the gold alone, which she gave to King Solomon, was of great worth. (1 Kings 10:2-5) It was customary, in the ancient world, to place great treasures and gifts before the emperors and kings to please them. 

When the Magi heard about the birth of a king for the Jews they set out with royal offerings- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. After 33 years, the same king stood elevated on the cross with the inscription INRI, (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum - "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews") By placing this title Pilate had made an involuntary, but historical proclamation  that Jesus is the King not only of the Jews but of the Universe.  Many a time such involuntary proclamations of Jesus’ Kingship are heard from unbelievers. The soldiers made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they put a royal purple robe on him, and shouted, "Hail! King of the Jews!"(John 19) Fr. Bobby Jose).

3) 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 visible 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 himself 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 bargained, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s feast challenges us to compare Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)

4) Mother Teresa and Leo Tolstoy recognized the King in disguise:
 
The story is told of Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm's length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, "You don't understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to Him." Or again, Leo Tolstoy's story, "Martin the Cobbler," tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend, all of whom he helps. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking, "Perhaps tomorrow He will come," only to hear a voice reply, "I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times." Christ is a King who goes about in disguise as the poor, the sick, the cripples, the tortured, the marginalized.

5) INRI:
 
A Jewish boy was lazy in his studies and misbehaved in the public school. So, his parents enrolled him in a Catholic school to see if he would improve.  His parents were surprised to observe that the boy stopped his excessive watching of TV, limited his time on computer games and spent most of his time in studies.  At the end of the year, he was the best student in class.  His baffled parents asked him what had happened.  "The first day I went to school," he explained, "and saw that man hanging on a plus sign at the main entrance of the school building, I knew you couldn't fool around here and get away with it.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Man on the cross is not an object to frighten naughty kids, but our God, our King and Savior Who died for us promising us eternal life, and Who will come in Glory to judge the world on the day of the Last Judgment.

6) Jesse Owens challenging Adolf Hitler:
 
The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer's authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the USA. He was aptly called "the fastest human alive." Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his "Aryan race" of "supermen" would conquer the world. In implementing his theory, Hitler began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks, Negroes as they were called then, as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler's claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power like Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to Whom we give allegiance. We owe our allegiance to Christ the King who redeemed us by shedding His Blood to save us.

7) "Super Savior"--
 
A Church in Ohio did it with a large icon--a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus with upraised arms, installed in a cornfield just north of Monroe, Ohio on Interstate 75. The statue--dubbed "Super Savior"-- was erected by the Solid Rock Church, in Middletown. Here is what is interesting. Traffic fatalities on this notorious stretch of road have dropped dramatically since the Super Savior statue was raised. Is that pure coincidence or has the Styrofoam and fiberglass Christ really aided road safety? Nobody knows. [Dr. John Bardsley. Source: National Catholic Reporter (10-28-2005), p. 3.] Certainly, a giant statue of Christ does no harm, and if it improves traffic, that's fine. But do not be confused. This is not the best way to express our allegiance to Christ. The best way to express our allegiance to Christ is to make our lives worthy of the name Christian.

8) Feast of Christ the King:
 
In 1925, Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this was Christ's world, not the property of the emerging dictators of that day. Mussolini had been in power for three years. Adolf Hitler had been out of jail only a year, and was finding great popular support for his fledgling Nazi party. The Pope had the courage of his convictions to declare, despite dictators, that Christ was King, reminding Christians where their ultimate loyalty lay! (From a sermon by Don Friesen, Ottawa Mennonite Church).

9) Unfinished work: A newspaper story some time back recorded the grim incident of a police officer shot and killed in the line of duty. His great desire before he was killed was to see his family's back yard completely landscaped, a desire he never saw fulfilled, because of the bullet that ended his life. Some of his fellow officers, who had grown to love their fallen comrade, donated their time and money to complete the work. Because it was the policeman's desire to finish the project it became his friends' desire. [Allen Hadidian, Discipleship (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987).]  The application to those of us who love Jesus Christ and accept Him as the King of our lives, is clear. What He loved and desired, we should love and desire and work to complete. His work is to see lost men saved and built up. His work is to see this world redeemed. His work is to see this unfinished world brought to completion. We who love Him are called to complete the task with His grace.

10) We have a King."
 
About three centuries ago, Spaniards besieged a small French town, St. Quentin. The city walls were in ruins; fever and famine plagued the people. One day the Spaniards shot over the walls a shower of arrows to which were attached little slips of parchment promising that if they surrendered, their lives and property would be spared. The mayor of the town was a devout Huguenot. For answer, he tied a piece of parchment to a javelin and hurled it back to the Spaniards. On the parchment was the message: "Regem habemus" -- "We have a king!" Christians also can say, "We have a King." Jesus is our King. We belong to his Kingdom.

11) The forgiving King:
 
Rev. Tony Campolo says that in his teenage years he was terrified by a visiting pastor's depiction of Judgment Day. This pastor claimed that one day God would show us a movie of every single sinful thought, word, or action we ever committed. And he ended his lurid description with the announcement, "And your mother will be there!" But Tony claims that Judgment Day will more closely mirror what happened during the trials over the Watergate scandal. The prosecutor brought in a tape of a conversation between Nixon and his aides. Just at the most crucial part of the tape, the section that revealed their crimes, there was an eighteen-minute gap of silence. Nixon's faithful secretary, Rosemary Wood, had erased the incriminating evidence! In the same way, Campolo says, Jesus will erase all the incriminating evidence against us as he did for the repentant thief crucified at his right side. 

12) "You're with Him, go on in."
 
A few years ago, Pastor Erwin Lutzer and his daughters were visiting Washington, D.C. While there, they met a man who served on former President Bush's Secret-Service security team. The gentleman offered to give them a guided tour of the Oval Office. Pastor Lutzer and his daughters passed through many security checkpoints the next day on the way to the Oval Office. At each checkpoint, they expected to be searched and questioned. But instead, the guards took one glance at the Secret-Service man and announced, "You are with him; go on in." Pastor Lutzer wrote that he expects our entrance into Heaven will be like that. We will have no credentials of our own that could possibly get us in. But Jesus will be walking along beside us. And at each gate, the angels will take one look at Jesus and announce, "You're with Him: go on in." [Erwin Lutzer, "Do Many Paths Lead into God's Presence?" Preaching Magazine March/April, 2001), p. 20.]

13) King Who conquered death:
 
Worldly kings do not have this power. Their last enemy is death, which ends their power, wealth, and prestige. In Vienna there is a crypt under a Capuchin church. In this crypt are buried 140 Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses. Each sarcophagus is sculptured in steel. The largest is a double tomb for Maria Theresa and her husband. On each sarcophagus was carved a cross and the Royal crown. On each corner of one sarcophagus was a skull wearing a crown. The message was clear: Death was king! Even kings are conquered by death. But the King of God's realm lives in spite of death. And so we, as Christians belonging to Him, have no fear of death, for by the power of His cross, death was defeated for us all.

14) “Thy Kingdom come:”
 
Those of us who live in the United States have no experience with royalty or with “Kingdoms” ruled by Kings or Queens. We have no Royal Family, so we have to invent our "Royalty." We had the “King of Rock’n’Roll,” Elvis Presley. We had the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. We had a “King of Soul,” James Brown. We have a "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. We have a “King of all Media,” Howard Stern. We have a "Queen of Clean," Linda Cobb. We even have a "King of Greasy Goodness” for the "Queen of Clean" to clean up: "Burger King"! But in countries like the Motherland, Great Britain, there is a real Royal Family. And the public can always keep track of where their Monarch is through an ancient tradition. When the ruling Monarch is in residence, the Royal Standard, the flag of the ruling Monarchy of the United Kingdom, flies above. When the Queen is at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the Royal standard flutters overhead. When she is NOT in residence, the Royal Standard is replaced by the Union Flag (the “Union Jack”). At her residences in Scotland, the Royal Standard flies above Holyrood Palace or Balmoral Castle when she is present. When she is absent from the grounds, the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland is hoisted. Long before there were reliable news sources, just one glance overhead would let the citizens of the kingdom know whether their Monarch was present, or where “the King was in the Kingdom.” Maybe it is our lack of any historical connection to a “Royal Residence” that makes us so clueless about the concept of the Kingdom of God when Jesus talks about it. We are not very educated in being a “Kingdom” or even in knowing what “Kingdom come” means.

15) The King of kings is here!
 
The old Cardinal Hugh Latimer often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the king with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented Henry VIII with a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner -'Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge'; a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust, and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time -next Sunday, when the Cardinal preached he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, "Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here." At the same time a voice in his heart said, "Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here." Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John's Sunday          Homilies). 

16) Dismas House to serve the parolees with “royal priesthood” of Christ the King:
 
The salvation of the 'good thief', later named Dismas in Christian thought, reminds me of those heroic people who have tried to bring hope and saving concern to criminals in our society. I remember especially Fr. Jack Hickey OP, a dynamic and charismatic chaplain at Vanderbilt University. Despite reservations from many quarters, but with help from dedicated lay partners, he founded "Dismas House.” Unlike the setup of other Dismas houses, recent parolees lived and worked with college students in the hope that mutual understanding and healing would take place. In the last years of his life, Jack fought virulent cancer and exercised his 'royal priesthood' from his personal cross, serving the parolees. Since his all-too-early death from cancer in January 1987, the movement has blossomed into ten such houses.  (John Donahue in Hearing the Word of God).

17) The real King?
 
This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to "rubber stamp" all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the Constitution, he did not have a choice - as figurehead Monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. Granted, earthly Monarchs need Constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power.  But, that's not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ's reign in our lives, we're just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives.  Clearly then, there's false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, "Go to Hell!" sure, it's easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, "I'm free - I don't have to go anywhere I don't want to go!" Yet when the people who declare self-determination their highest law (and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning Christ the King in their hearts), hear HIM solemnly speak those same words as the judgment of their eternal damnation, they will discover the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. (John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online    Reflections'). 

18) 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; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila)
19) 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); quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila.] 

20) 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 by 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.  Jesus the King won freedom for mankind and won the hearts of mankind by his death on the cross. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila)

21) 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.  (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila)

22) 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 Coliseum.  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 Coliseum 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. (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila) 

23) “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; quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila).L/16

24) 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 nothing more to give" -could have been placed on the cross of Christ.  - Mark Link 

25) 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 turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness. Ckrist the King’s strength lies in his cross by which he redeemed the world. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace) .

 26) St. Ignatius of Antioch:
 
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. (Quioted by Fr. Kayala).

 27) 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’(Quoted by Fr. Botelho) 

28) 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’ (Quoted by Fr. Botelho).

29) "I could have been down there."
 
There is  a story about a South Dakota rancher which reminded me that many of us know how near the Kingdom really is, we just don't talk about it in that way. The story goes that following the disastrous winter of 1997 with its many blizzards and ice storms, and its record losses of cattle, an older rancher welcomed several helping professionals to his ranch. They had come to visit with him on behalf of his church, and to assess the extent of his losses from these disasters. He led them out to a hill in the pasture near his ranch, and told them they were standing on the grave of his herd of cattle. All but a small number had been frozen to death in an early April storm. The visitors were stunned by the enormity of his loss, and by his matter-of-fact manner in relating it to them. They questioned and probed a bit for some sense of his feelings about all of this, until he responded... as many South Dakotans did in the face of such disasters: "Well, it could have been worse." The visitors were more sure than ever that this man must be deep in denial to have such an attitude about losing his life's work in one weekend storm. They questioned and probed a bit more. How could it have possibly been worse? Having been pushed to explain himself, and probably having sized up the visitors as city folks, he finally responded by pointing down to the hill or grave they were standing on and said, "I could have been down there." The story speaks volumes to me about rural people and their daily understanding of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. (Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdhal). L/17