Christ the King -34th Sunday


Introduction: It was Pope Pius XI who brought the Feast of Christ the King into the liturgy in 1925, to bring Christ, his rule and Christian values back into lives of Christians, into society and into politics. The Feast was also a reminder to the totalitarian governments of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin that Jesus Christ is the only Sovereign King. Although Emperors and Kings now exist mostly in history books, we still honor Christ as the King of the Universe by enthroning Him in our hearts and allowing Him to take control of our lives. This feast challenges us to see Christ the King in everyone, especially those whom our society considers the least important, and to treat each person with love, mercy and compassion as Jesus did.

History of Christ the King Sunday

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

The man who was the pope of the Roman Catholic Church at the time wrote a letter in which he dedicated the world to Christ the King. In the letter, he reminded the empires that God is present with the whole human race, even with those who do not know God.

After World War I, another pope designated the last Sunday in October as Christ the King Sunday, a day to remember that Christ received power and honor from God and was thereby made ruler of the universe. Eventually, Catholics moved Christ the King Sunday to the last Sunday of the church year, when they were already accustomed to reflecting on Christ's return at the end of time to rule over all creation, a theme which echoes throughout Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

David W. Miller, Reign of Truth
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The word 'King' connotes power, dominion, pomp and glory. While we may not like the idea of kingship and we certainly do not want someone to have control over us, yet most people crave for one thing that kings, especially in the past, exercised: Power. Either openly or subtly we do exercise power and like to have power over others. We like to affirm: "I'm the one in charge here!", or "I am my own boss!", "I don't take orders from any one." Is it wrong to exercise power over others? What is the Christian's attitude to exercising authority and power?
May His word and example inspire us! (J.Botelho)

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Gospel: John 18:33-37

Michel DeVerteuil
Textual Comments


In today’s feast we celebrate Jesus under the title of King. These days, of course, we don’t have too many kings around but we do have “leaders” – so today we can call him a “perfect leader”. He is the kind of leader we all want to be, the kind of leader we want for ourselves and for others.
We know that Jesus exercised a special kind of leadership. His example must therefore invite us to a deep reflection on how we exercise leadership. Is our way of exercising it true or false? How do other people do it? What is the true form of leadership as it is understood in the world of today? This is clearly the importance of this feast for us and for the world in which we live.
To help us in this meditation on leadership, the church invites us, in this year B, to reflect on St John’s account of the confrontation between Jesus and Pilate. What we have here is only a short extract of a long and very wonderful scene. It is still long enough, however, for us to really enter into the extraordinary interplay between these two men.
It is a meeting between two people who know what kind of leadership they are about. We often find ourselves in this kind of situation today and so we can really meditate on it.
– Jesus is the ideal we are all looking to be like;
– Pilate represents the kind of leadership we are anxious to get away from.
We have played both parts at different times in our lives and  we must be able to see how we can fit into each; we will then  be able to measure how we are like them, and draw our conclusions. So this meditation will lead us to two things:
– to make an act of thanksgiving for the times when we have exercised leadership as Jesus wants us to;
– to make an act of humble repentance for the times when we have done it all wrong, when we have been more like Pilate than like Jesus.
We remember those who stood up proud and self-confident in the presence of rulers who were considered powerful in the eyes of the world but in fact were not. We think of people like
– the great popes and saints of our church’s history
– the great women in the history of our church who have objected to the accepted ways of behaving and done wonderful things on their own;
– people of different faith traditions who we know are among us today;
  • the many strong men and women in the world today.
Naturally Jesus himself is a powerful challenge to the church of our time – the universal church , and local church communities. He also reminds us of communities of people who in the face of very opposed values share a common faith, in themselves, and in the real values of the world they live in.
We need to go more deeply into this aspect of what Jesus claimed for himself. Note his total self-confidence. He says, “My kingdom is not of this kind”. It is a tremendous act of self-confidence. He is claiming his kingdom and declaring it to be different from that of Pilate. Let us learn to recognize how separate we are from many in our society.
Jesus in his nothingness was totally self-confident, while Pilate was afraid. This comes out more clearly in a later passage but we already see it here. Pilate was afraid, anxious to set Jesus free, but Jesus was not afraid. Jesus knew what kind of leadership he was offering and how different it was from that of Pilate. We too must be very conscious of what is special in our kind of leadership and how it separates us from the rest of humanity today.
Often in our lives we are like Pilate. As we sit on our thrones and call people into our presence to pass judgment on them, it is they who question us. They ask us, are we speaking from the truth of ourselves or just mouthing what others have told us? Jesus knew what was happening in the world, how different his style was from that of other leaders. He chose it with no reference to what others said or taught.

Scripture prayer reflections

“Teach us to love as you did and to see others as you did.” …Gandhi
Lord, remind us that the values of Jesus cannot be imposed.
It is never a matter of fighting battles,
with followers preventing their leaders being surrendered into the hands of their enemies.
Our kingdom is different, it is not of this kind.
 “The springs of war are in the invincible world and it is there that we must deal with it, remembering that those most responsible for its sins and horrors lie in the power of those who are our neighbours and they need our help.”  … Evelyn Underhill

Lord, give us the power which comes from knowing that we were born for a purpose.

We come into the world to bear witness to certain principles,
and therefore we don’t have to worry about who approves or disapproves of them.
We know that those who are on the side of these principles
listen to our voice and will be touched by them.
Lord, nowadays anybody who has something to sell
spends a lot of time and money making it look good,
covering up whatever aspects are not attractive.
Forgive us that we try to do the same with the message of Jesus.
Remind us that like Jesus we have come into the world
to bear witness to the truth and that whoever listens to the truth will listen to our voice.

“God has created me to do him some definite service.  I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next.” …    Cardinal Newman
Lord, once we know that like Jesus we have come into the world for a purpose,
we need not be afraid of others,
even if they are governors and can summon us to enter into their praetorium.
“God communicates himself to all persons, redeems them and stamps their being with an orientation towards sharing his own life.”  …Karl Rahner
Lord, we thank you that you have planted your truth
in the heart of every human being.
We know that we are followers of Jesus
when those who are on the side of truth recognize our voice.
“Lord, look through my eyes, speak through my lips, walk with my feet. Then my poor human presence will be a reminder – however weak – of your divine presence.”…Helder Camara
Lord, help us to walk with Jesus in our daily surroundings,
so that we may be sure that you are there to walk with us.
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Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

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

Homily notes

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

2. Some of these themes are:
The importance of recognising that humans can act construc­tively or destructively in the way we live.
The importance of recycling: we must not behave as if any­thing can simply be used and thrown away as waste; we must see every object as having its own value.
That we must recognise that everything we do as individuals or small groups becomes part of a larger pattern that can have far greater consequences.
We must keep our eyes fixed on the longer-term picture: ‘Now’, ‘Today” are such fleeing moments!
3. For us who believe that God is the creator, the beginning and ’ end of all that is, seen and unseen, these four themes of ecolo­gists are not simply ‘human wisdom’ but part of our whole understanding of this mystery of why we are here. And the imagery we use to express this very complex set of beliefs is that Jesus, the Anointed of the Father, is the King of All Creation. It is in him that all creation comes to its perfection, and then through him that it is presented to his Father.
4. On Holy Saturday night we welcomed the risen Christ by inscribing the Paschal Candle (that actual candle, now a worn down butt, can be a visual at this point) with these words:
Christ yesterday and today,
The beginning and the end
Alpha and Omega
All time belongs to him
And all the ages
To him be glory and power through every age forever.
5. We often think of God the Son at the beginning of the cre­ation: as we say in the creed: he is ‘begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made’ and St John adds: ‘and without him was not anything made that was made.’ This is recognising Christ at the beginning, the Alpha of all.
6. Today we think of Christ as the end, the final point, the goal of all creation, the Omega of all.
7. And for us, This is the future of hope, not a great catastrophe but when all that is good and noble in brought to perfection. The figure of the Christ stands at the end of time like someone gathering the harvest, and then pre­senting it in its completed state to the Father.
8. So how do we Christians realise these four things:
A. *The importance of recognising that humans can act constructively or destructively in the way we live.
Our actions are not simply random activity: we are called to act with justice and honesty, with care and respect, not from self-interest but because this is part of God’s loving plan. We want to be in harmony with nature, but we also want to be in harmony with the Love that brought nature into existence and which draws it towards its goal.
B.*The importance of recycling: we must not behave as if anything can simply be used and thrown away as waste; we must see every object as having its own value.
Everything exists because of God’s loving will in giving it existence, and each thing has unique value because it is brought into being through the Son. To see anything as use­less, waste, rubbish, is to ignore the Alpha of the creation and its Omega.
C.*That we must recognise that everything we do as individuals or small groups becomes part of a larger pattern that can have far greater consequences.
We recognise that we are called to behave responsibly as individuals and as groups. We know we must have an inti­mate relationship with God as individuals in prayer and ac­tion, but we must also have a group relationship with Christ as his body, the church. The Lord, who calls each of us by name, is also the Lord who calls us to become the kingdom, and it is that kingdom, embracing all creation, that is presented to the Father.
D.*We must keep our eyes fixed on the longer-term picture: ‘Now’, ‘Today’ are such fleeing moments!
Just as we must think long-term about the material universe – both, forwards and backwards – if we are to act with understanding, so we have to remember the Alpha of the universe – that all comes into being through the Son and its Omega – when the Son presents it to the Father – if act wisely within God’s creation.
9. For us these are not bits of human wisdom, rather they are fragments of the divine plan that we can see around us and which point us to the incompleteness of any understanding of the universe that does not acknowledge it as a creation that comes from God and which returns to God and which is suffused with the divine love through the presence of Christ, the Alpha and the Omega.
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Sean Goan
Gospel

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

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

 What type of King?

A big thing in life is ‘where are you from’?  We say ‘your accent betrays you’. Sometimes we judge totally on where people are from, as Pilate with Jesus.  With all he knew of him and heard, the miracles and the speeches – where are you from?  Are you a king really? What sort is your kingdom?
Pilate was intrigued with Jesus and so are we.
Our Christian life is getting to know Jesus more, and taking part in his mission.  The type of person he was.  That he came from God and from humanity.  He speaks of the best of God and the best of us, the best of heaven and the best of earth.  He is worth our following.
Our role in life, our vocation and our mission is a calling to live like him in love and service.
There is the ‘from above’ in Jesus and much of John’s gospel stresses the divinity of Christ.  He doesn’t look very divine but he does look very human.  In the human is the divine.  So we could be like him. We become like him by reading about his life and living like he did. He is a king in his truth, justice, compassion and love.  The king-defender of the poor.

A good ending of one church year to begin another.  King and servant. We’ll see more of what it’s all like in the weeks of December.  Meantime we want to live in this reign of God and pray and live – your kingdom come.
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From the Connections:

THE WORD: We celebrate the kingship of Jesus with the John’s Gospel account of what is perhaps Jesus’ most humiliating moment: his appearance before Pilate.  It is a strange exchange:  Pilate has been blackmailed by the Jewish establishment into executing Jesus for their ends; it is the accused who dominates the meeting and takes on the role of inquisitor; Pilate has no idea what Jesus is talking about when speaks bout “the truth.”
Pilate, a man of no great talent or competence, was under a great deal of political pressure.  He had needlessly alienated the Jews of Palestine by his cruelty, his insensitivity to their religious customs and his clumsy appropriation of funds from the temple treasury for public projects.  Reports of his undistinguished performance had reached his superiors in Rome.  Jesus proclaims himself ruler of a kingdom built of compassion, humility, love and truth -- power that Pilate cannot comprehend in his small, narrow view of the world.


HOMILY POINTS:
We cannot be Christians by default but only by choice; we cannot respond passively to the call to discipleship, only actively can we embrace the spirit of the “kingdom” of God, a kingdom built on compassion, justice and truth.
The kingdom of Jesus is not found in the world’s centers of power but within human hearts; it is built not by deals among the power elite but by compassionate hands; Christ reigns neither by influence nor wealth but by selfless charity and justice.
To be faithful disciples of Christ is to be servants of truth -- truth that liberates and renews, truth that gives and sustains life and hope, truth that transcends rationalizations, half-truths and delusions, truth that serves as a looking glass for seeing the world in the intended design of God.
Christ’s reign is realized only in our embracing a vision of humankind as a family made in the image of God, a vision of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, a vision of the world centered in the spirit of hope and compassion taught by Christ.  

Welcome to Jesus’ place . . .
Every evening you and your family gather around the table in your kitchen for supper.  The entree might be some epicurean delight from the pages of Bon Appétit -- but more often than not it’s Chinese takeout or pizza from Domino’s.  As everyone digs in, the table buzzes with talk of tomorrow’s soccer game, a crabby teacher, the current fix-up project, the latest office crises, and a new knock-knock joke.  Here at the kitchen table, parent and child give and receive encouragement, consolation, forgiveness and love.  Especially love.  If there is one safe harbor on earth, one secure, sheltered place where you are always welcome no matter how badly you mess up, the kitchen table is it.  Your kitchen – the place where Christ rules.
A storm devastates a town; a fire reduces a neighborhood to burnt timber and ashes; an act of terrorism cuts a wide and bloody swath through a community.  That’s when they go to work: skilled medical professionals, tireless construction workers, patient and gifted counselors, compassionate volunteers.  These dedicated souls work around the clock to care for the hurt and injured, rescue those in danger, help the traumatized cope, and begin the hard work of rebuilding.  By their very presence, these good people transform the debris and ashes into the kingdom of Jesus.
The tired old downtown building has seen better days but no better use.  The city’s churches have worked together to turn the brick structure into a community center, a safe place where children can come to play basketball, receive tutoring, or just hang out after school.  The well-stocked pantry provides for dozens of hungry families every week; a free clinic offers basic on-site medical care and referral services to the poor and uninsured.  Its meeting rooms are always busy: the elderly have a place to go for companionship and immigrants are taught how to master the language of their new homeland.  In this austere brick building, Jesus reigns.

The kingdom of Jesus is not found in the world’s centers of power but within human hearts; it is built not by deals among the power elite but by compassionate hands; Christ reigns neither by influence nor wealth but by generosity and justice.  A politician and influential figure like Pilate cannot grasp the “kingship” of Jesus -- but we who have been baptized in the life, death and resurrection of Christ are called to build and maintain that kingdom in our own time and place.  Christ’s reign is realized only in our embracing a vision of humankind as a family made in the image of God, a vision of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, a vision of the world centered in the spirit of hope and compassion taught by Christ.

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ILLUSTRATIONS:

From Fr. Jude Botelho:

The first reading from the Book of Daniel continues to speak in apocalyptic terms like last Sunday’s reading. The prophet is speaking to the people who were disillusioned about the kings who ruled over them. They were despots and did not care for the people. To these people who were losing hope, the prophet says: Your God is coming to you, your King is coming to you. He will come to save you. Yes, He is Lord and King but different from earthly rulers. The point of the reading is that God is coming to his people. The Son of man will come to bring hope to his people, and his kingdom will never end, this hope no one can take away.

Give us a king!
Kings and Queens do not exist today and those that do are remnants and no longer functional. But Kings and Queens do exist in fairy tales and in stories. Indeed when people were in need and badly off, they always started to tell stories of a king who would reign in such a way that good times would return, everybody would be happy and there would be prosperity and peace. The Hebrews had that dream and desire during their history. When they had difficulties they would pray: "Yahweh, give us a king." And when they had one who was more part of the problem than part of the solution, they would pray again: "Yahweh, give us a king, a new one, a real one. The one we have is fake!" They yearned for a real king.
Joseph Donders in 'Praying and Preaching the Sunday Gospel'

The Gospel reading goes on to stress how different this Jesus King is from the kings of the earth, totally different, a sign of contradiction. The whole idea of Christ being king does not come up at the height of his popularity but at the moment when everyone, all his disciples and followers have abandoned him. When he seems to be powerless at that moment he claims kingship. "Yes I am a king. I was born for this; I came into the world for this. His kingship consists in bearing witness to the truth; "all who are on the side of truth will listen to my voice." In the Gospel we see the Kingship of Jesus contrasted with worldly power. Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, a powerful man who questioned Jesus to judge his innocence or guilt. Yet it would seem that Jesus is questioning Pilate and made to face the truth. Pilate is ill at ease while Jesus is the one who is in control. Jesus points out that his kingship is not in the realm of political power. His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus has surrendered all power -He came not to be served but to serve. Today this King invites us to serve those in need. As followers of this King we are challenged if we wish to be part of his kingdom. His Kingdom does not belong to this world and its values. Can we surrender power? Can we let go of the desire to control others? Instead of wanting to be served, to let others know who the 'boss' is that we can serve? Are we people of the Kingdom? We do not have to wait for the last judgement to find out if we are people who live according to the values of His Kingdom. We are constantly being tested by people, situation and events to prove if we are people for God and of God, people who believe in service and in action. Our lives are our greatest witness. Would there be sufficient evidence in our lives for us to be condemned as followers of the Lord Jesus today?

The Story...our story
Soren Kierkegaard a philosopher and theologian tells a story about a king who fell in love with a peasant girl. The king knew that it was next to impossible for him to marry the girl. But this king was so powerful that he knew he could marry the girl and get away with it. But another thought occurred to him. If he married the peasant girl and stayed king, there would always be something missing in their relationship. The girl would always admire the king, but she could never really love him. She would always be conscious of the fact that he was royalty and she was merely a lowly peasant. So the king decided on another plan. He decided that he would resign his kingship and become a lowly peasant himself. Then he would offer his love to her as one peasant to another. The king realized, of course, that if he did this, the situation could backfire. She might reject him, especially if she thought him foolish for doing what he did. The king finally decided that he loved the peasant girl so much that he would risk everything to make true love between them possible. Kierkegaard never told how the story ended. He had two reasons for not telling how the story ended. Firstly the point of his story was the king's love for the lowly peasant girl. It was so great that he renounced his royalty and his throne for her. The second reason why Kierkegaard never told how the story ended is that the story has not ended yet. It is still going on. It is a story whose ending has not been written. It is the story of God's love for each one of us. The King in the story is God; the girl in the story is us. Only we can write the end of that story! What will it be???
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'

The interview is over!
The story is told of a man who traveled to London to attend an interview for an important post in the security services. When he arrived at the appointed place he found five other applicants in the waiting room, all discussing their prospects. There was no security on duty. A sign on the wall stated that applicants were to knock and enter the interview room at fifteen-minute intervals, beginning at eleven o'clock. They were to leave the interview room by another door, so the nature of the questioning could be kept secret. The applicants discussed this strange arrangement; they reflected on what questions they might be asked; they wondered what qualities would be needed for the post. At eleven o'clock, one of them who said he had been the first to arrive went to the door of the interview room, knocked and entered. The remaining five men continued to discuss various matters among themselves. So, the time passed. At quarter past twelve the last man to arrive rose from the chair, walked over to the door of the interview room, knocked and entered. When he stepped into the room he was confused by what he saw. Behind the large oak table that dominated the room sat his interviewers: they were the same five men who had been in the waiting room. The interview was already over! We believe our final interview with the Lord will be on judgement day. In reality it has begun! "What you did to the least of my brethren you did unto me."
Anonymous

"I am ready for your Kingdom"
Once a village blacksmith had a vision, an angel of the Lord came to him and said "The Lord has sent me. The time has come for you to take up your place in his kingdom." "I thank God for thinking of me" said the blacksmith, "but as you know, the season for sowing crops will soon be here. The people of the village will need their ploughs repaired, and their horses shod. I don't wish to seem ungrateful, but do you think I might put off my place in the kingdom until I have finished?" The angel looked at him in the wise and loving ways of angels. "I'll see what can be done" he said and vanished. The blacksmith continued with his work and was almost finished when he heard of a neighbour who fell ill in the middle of the planting season. The next time he saw the angel, the blacksmith pointed towards the barren fields and pleaded with the angel, "Do you think eternity can hold off a little longer? If I don't finish this job, my friend's family will suffer." Again the angel smiled and vanished. The blacksmith's friend recovered, but another's barn burnt down, and a third was deep in sorrow at the death of his wife. And a fourth, and so on. Whenever the angel reappeared, the blacksmith just spread out his hands in a gesture of resignation and compassion, and drew the angel's eyes to where the suffering was. One evening the blacksmith began to think of the angel, and how he'd put him off for such a long time. He felt very old and tired and he prayed "Lord if you would like to send your angel again, I think I would like to see him now." He'd no sooner spoken than the angel stood before him. "If you want to take me" said the blacksmith, "I am now ready to take my place in the kingdom of the Lord." The angel of the Lord looked at the blacksmith, and smiled, as he said, "Where do you think you have been all these years?"
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel Truth'
Film -Cool Hand Luke- A Good thief
Luke is a happy-go-lucky ex-serviceman who, while drunk, damages public property and is sentenced to prison for two years. He seems to live a charmed life because he is always smiling. At first the other prisoners dislike him but his attitude eventually wins over his fellow convicts. Life is harsh in prison but Luke enables others to keep going because he refuses to bend to the arbitrary authority of the bosses. Luke escapes twice but is caught and tortured and is ultimately shot and bleeds to death because the bosses refuse to let him be taken to the nearest hospital. The authorities have killed Luke but his spirit lives on in the stories and memories of the prisoners. The character of Luke can be seen as a Good Thief as well as a Christ-figure. The movie tells us about Luke's irresponsibility and inability to settle down. Going to prison does not seem to bother him, but the injustices that he experiences and the brutal treatment that is meted out to him there take their toll. Despite this he keeps up the morale of the other prisoners. Luke's life culminates in what seems to be his arbitrary death. Once again, Luke can be seen as a Christ-figure because he suffers torment so that others may have life, even if only through encouragement to survive prison. Just as Luke's story was told and re-told by the prisoners, so the story of the Good Thief has become part of Jesus' own story and has been told and re-told for thousands of years, giving courage to the fainthearted and strength to the weak.
Peter Malone in 'Lights Camera... Faith!'


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1. Background: Fr. Andrew Greeley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. “Who’s on first?”

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

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

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

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3. What Pilate Believes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus wins, Pilate loses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace
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From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

1) “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.”

2) “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)

3) A Man for All Seasons:
There is a great scene in the play that fits very well with today’s feast of Christ the King. You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the faith against the persuasion and eventually persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second-in-charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine since she was also his sister-in-law and since she had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom. After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome. Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do. Then we come to the center point. Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?” Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest. And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest. There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support. But you are different. And people know it. That is why I need your support.” In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject.

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

5) 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.’ "
6) Co-pilot Christ the king:

Many people love bumper sticker theology.  Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.  One such, “God is my Co-pilot," has also been found on church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder.  In this case, the Church sign says, "If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats."


#1: Christ has conquered, Christ now rules: In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. It about four and half thousand years old and it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. But it was bought to Rome by the dreadful Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of Circus of Nero, equally dreadful, that was on the Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw. On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross however, the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme. The other inscription, “The Lion of Judah has conquered”. So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane)

#2: “Long live Christ the King!” In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and 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).

#3: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, among others. 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, Thomas 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 his heart and home; he believed one must also confess Christ in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci).

# 4: On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the second century bishop of Smyrna, was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released.  He replied, “Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my King, Jesus Christ, who saved me?”  The Roman officer replied, “Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt.”  But Polycarp said, “You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly.  Do what you wish.”

# 5: A king with a big difference: Charles Colson, former legal counsel to Richard Nixon and later founder of the Christian Prison Fellowship, says it like this: “All the kings and queens I have known in history sent their people out to die for them. I only know one King Who decided to die for his people.”


JOKES OF THE WEEK

#1: 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.’ ”

#2: Co-pilot Christ the king: Many people love bumper sticker theology.  Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.  One such, “God is my Co-pilot,” has also been found on Church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder.  In this case, the Church sign says, “If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats.”

# 3: Right near the end!” Once a priest was giving a homily and as he went on, he became more animated. He made a sweeping gesture – and accidentally knocked his papers from the pulpit. He scrambled to pick them up, then asked, “Now, where was I?” A voice from the congregation responded, “Right near the end!” Well, we are at the end – not of the homily, but of the liturgical year

# 4: The most famous man who ever lived: One day a kindergarten teacher nun said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give $2 to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.” An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick. “The teacher said, “Sorry Sean, that’s not correct.” Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either. “Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Marvin, come up here and I’ll give you the $2.” As the teacher was giving Marvin his money, she said, “You know Marvin, you being Jewish, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” Marvin replied, “Yeah. In my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business…” 

32 - Additional anecdotes

1) A Man for All Seasons: There is a great scene in the play, A Man for All Seasons, that fits very well with today’s Feast of Christ the King.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the 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 on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law but really because she had not given birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asked the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replied with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different.  And people know it.  That is why I need your support.”   In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject.

2) “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the ancient Egyptian king, Ramses, whose arrogant motto was inscribed on temples still standing, “I am the greatest.” Jesus is not a king like the king of China, a savage tyrant who used millions of slaves to build the Great Wall of China, a wall so huge that it can be seen from the moon. He is not a king like Louis XIV, who lived in excessive luxury in his Versailles palace of 1000 rooms. Jesus is different in that he was not born of a reigning King, though He is of the royal House of David, but as the Scripture tells, Jesus is the One Whom God “will choose as king….” There is no other king like King Jesus, for Jesus is a Divine King, none other than the very Son of God, the Messiah. Jeremiah calls Him, “the Lord of our Salvation.” (v. 6) St. Paul sees this in Jesus who is “the image of the invisible God” and in Whom dwells “all the fullness of God.” Jesus himself knows who He is, for He says, “The Father and I are one … he who has seen Me has seen the Father.” 

3) Desperate deaths of autocratic kings and 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 to be 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 of France (1550-1574, reigned 1560-1574), 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 reported to have said she would give, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare with these royal deaths Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez)

4) 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.”

5) Francis of Assisi was wealthy, high-born and high-spirited, but he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was riding, and he met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and, lo, in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of the Christ.

6) 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, and 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.”

7)”Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope.”  Those of us, who pray for the persecuted Church, mourned the loss of Ignatius, Cardinal Kung who died at the age of 98.  He stood by his convictions, and withstood persecution for his Faith.  He was consecrated the bishop of Shanghai in 1949, shortly after the Communists took over China. The Chinese government pressured him to align his loyalties to the “Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.”  But he refused, choosing to remain loyal to his Church’s chain of command.  In 1955, the authorities brought him and 200 other priests to a stadium in Shanghai.  The government ordered them to “confess their crimes.”  Instead, Kung shouted “Long Live Christ the King!  Long Live the Pope.”  Shortly thereafter, he received a life sentence, where he spent the next 30 years in prison, most of the time in solitary confinement.  When he was freed in 1987, he came to the United States with his nephew and settled in Stamford, Connecticut.  He went to his eternal reward on March 12, 2000.

8)   “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)

9) “He is something more than a king.” In Lloyd Douglas’ novel, 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.”

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

11) “Little omission of kindness”:  William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President, once had to choose between two equally qualified men for a key job. He puzzled over the choice until he remembered a long-ago incident. On a rainy night, McKinley had boarded a crowded streetcar. One of his prospective candidates was in the car. When an old woman carrying a basket of laundry struggled into the car looking for a seat, the job candidate pretended not to see her while McKinley obliged. Remembering the episode as a “little omission of kindness,” McKinley decided against the man on the streetcar. Our decisions – even the small fleeting ones – tell a lot about us, whether we serve ourselves or Christ our King living in others. [Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller Jr. (Penguin Books).]

12)  The Generals of Insignificance in our lives: In the Berlin Art Gallery there is a painting by the famous artist Adolph von Menzel that is only partially finished.  It is called, “Frederick the Great Addresses His Generals before the Battle of Leuthen in 1757.” Menzel painstakingly painted the generals first, placing them around the outside of the painting as a background and leaving a bare patch in the middle of the painting for the King.  But Menzel died before he could finish the painting.  So there is a painting full of generals but no king.  We often spend much time enthroning the generals of insignificance in our lives and postpone inviting Jesus the King of Kings into our hearts till the last moment which is quite uncertain.  As a result, many Christians die without putting Christ into the very center of their lives.  The painting of our lives will never be complete until we place at its center Christ the King whose feast we celebrate today.

13) “I shall be that soldier.” Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian. In fact, that was his name — Christian X – who was King of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle. Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand. In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement. On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German Kommandant and asked that the flag be removed. “The flag flies,” the Kommandant replied, “because I ordered it flown. Request denied.” “I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.” “Then he will be shot,” said the Kommandant. “I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.” The flag was removed.

14) Jesse Owens crushing Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy theory: 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. Today is Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar, an appropriate time for us to grapple with the whole question of authority. 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.

15) Faith in and fidelity to the King: While battling the Philistines, King David was camped at a place called the Cave of Adullam. He was tired of fighting and was longing for a taste of home. David said, wishing out loud, “O that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” Three of his most able and faithful soldiers overheard the king, and took it upon themselves to go and get water from that well for him. It meant risking their necks, for they had to break through the camp of the Philistines to do it. When they brought the water to David, however, he refused to drink it. He recognized how dangerous it had been to get the water, and he realized that this act showed how highly they regarded him. Instead of drinking it, he poured it out on the ground as an offering to the Lord. David had already shown his faith in his men, and these three were responding with faith and love for their king. (1 Chronicles 11:15-19). What about Christ? Does he inspire Faith in you? 

16) In the Line of Fire. Dr. Gary Nicolosi compares God’s love to the 1993 hit film, In the Line of Fire. Clint Eastwood plays Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. Horrigan had protected the life of the President for more than three decades, but he was haunted by the memory of what had happened thirty years before. Horrigan was a young agent assigned to President Kennedy on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963. When the assassin fired, Horrigan froze in shock. For thirty years afterward, he wrestled with the ultimate question for a Secret Service agent: Can I take a bullet for the President? In the climax of the movie, Horrigan does what he had been unable to do earlier: he throws himself into the path of an assassin’s bullet to save the President. Secret Service agents are willing to do such a thing because they believe the President is so valuable to our country that he is worth dying for. At Calvary the situation was reversed, says Dr. Nicolosi. The President of the Universe actually took a bullet for each of us. At the cross we see how valuable we are to God.

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

18) “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. Jesus appears to us in different guises. If only we knew it was He … [Flor McCarthy in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]

19) Gluttonous kings versus humble king: Hu Hai was the second emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC). Hu Hai indulged in the super luxurious life. He forced a large number of peasants from around the country to build Epang Palace and the mausoleum in Lishan Mountain. He ordered 50,000 soldiers to defend the capital and all parts of the country were forced ceaselessly to send provisions to the capital. Several of the Roman emperors, unmatched in wealth and power, fully demonstrated a capacity for luxury and gluttony. Among these emperors, Claudius (ruled AD 41–54) is famous. The luxury banquet laid out in the famous tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt (died 1352 BC.), which was intended for the monarch to enjoy in the afterlife, included a gourmet selection of wines inscribed with names of wine districts— one may call them— the Nile Valley, the Nile Delta, and the Oases. Hundreds of attendants waited on them. Against this background, there came a King, giving a shocking surprise to his followers. Jesus washed the feet of his followers and waited on them. He performed a gesture that had never been heard of, and commanded his followers to do the same, and to follow it as a new commandment in his Kingdom. (Fr. Bobby Jose).

20) Large grave in the monastery: St. Theodosius was a monk who lived in Palestine in the 500s. After growing in holiness himself, he decided to start a new monastery, which soon attracted so many vocations that it became more of a monastic city than just a monastery. One of the first things he did when he founded his monastery was rather shocking. He dug a large grave, right in the middle of the cloister. When he had finished digging, the little group of curious monks gathered around the rectangular pit to get an explanation. Theodosius said simply: “Here you see a grave. Here we will all one day be buried and our bodies will return to the dust from which they were made. Remember this, my sons, so that you never stray from the Lord’s sure but narrow road of prayer and self-denial. It is better to die to ourselves each day and rise again on the Day of Judgment than indulge ourselves foolishly now and remain in the grave forever.” St Theodosius had learned well the lesson of today’s parable – Christ wants us to know what’s going to happen after death, so that we can make the right choices throughout our life. (E-Priest).

21) The British Navy Welcomes the Devil: The main point of Pope Pius XI’s 1925 encyclical on the Fest of Christ the King was to remind Catholics that Christ matters not only for our private lives, but for our public lives too. That reminder is as valid today as it was in 1925. We are constantly bombarded by media messages that tell us to keep our religion safe at home and keep it out of the public square. But if we don’t defend and spread Christian values in society, what values will thrive there? If we don’t continue to bring Christ into culture, what will culture become? You may remember a story that was in the news a couple of years ago. It told how the British Royal Navy officially recognized and approved of the practice of Satanism. A naval technician named Chris Cramer, who explicitly claimed to be a devil worshipper, was granted permission to perform satanic rituals on his ship. A Royal Navy spokesman explained that the Navy was “an equal opportunity employer and we don’t stop anybody from having their own religious values.” If we truly believe that Christ is the Savior, that there really is one God who created us and redeemed us, we should not be afraid to bring that Faith to play in the society around us. If we don’t bring it to play, others will bring into play other values and beliefs, and those may not be as innocent as we would like. All religions are not the same. All values systems are the not the same. Today, the Church is reminding us of this, and encouraging us to be faithful followers of the one, true God, who so loved the world that He sent His Son to be our Savior by winning for us the forgiveness of sins through His death on the cross. [Rev. Francis M. de Rosa, STL; E- Priest.]

22) Hilaire Belloc won the election:  In 1908, the famous Anglo-French historian and writer, Hilaire Belloc [BELL-ock] ran for the British Parliament. His opponents tried to scare off his supporters by claiming that Belloc’s faithfulness to the Catholic Church would inhibit him from being objective. Belloc responded in a speech: “Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This [taking his beads out of his pocket] is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell its beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God for having spared me the indignity of being your representative.” The crowd was shocked for a minute, and then burst out in applause. Belloc went on to win that election, and many more. If Catholics cannot bring Christ’s wisdom, goodness, and grace into our society, what do we have to offer?  Our paltry human wisdom? Our own tendencies to selfishness? Our shortsightedness? Pope Pius XI’s encyclical stresses that Christ truly is the King of the Universe, that He will reign forever, and that the Church on earth is the beginning of His Kingdom. It is not enough, therefore, for Christians to hold onto their Faith just in their private lives. We must bring Christ and Christian values into culture, politics, and every sphere of society. If we truly believe in Christ, why would we be afraid of defending and spreading Christian values? Why would we let ourselves be bullied by secular fundamentalists who try to exclude Christ from culture? (E- Priest).

23) The Obelisk in St Peter’s Square: In St Peter’s Square in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a single block of granite in the shape of the Washington monument, almost 100 feet high and weighing 330 tons. It is the oldest obelisk in Rome, dating from about 1850 BC. At that time it had been erected as a monument to the Pharaoh, and it watched over two thousand years of Egyptian history – the longest reigning empire in history. It stood there when Abraham was called, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, soon after the Magi came to worship him, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority as conqueror of Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, the largest empire in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, along with hundreds of other early Christians. Then the barbarians invaded Rome, and in the Middle Ages it fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old Basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when a new Christian culture emerged and flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk re-erected in the center of the plaza. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt, Rome and the barbarian hoards. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ, conquering his Kingdom, was crucified. Now it serves the universal Kingdom that will have no end, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (E- Priest).

24) Empires Come and Go – The Church Endures: St Maximilian Kolbe: This is one of the reasons why tyrants hate the Catholic Church so much. Tyrants want total control – we call their governments “totalitarian regimes“. And so they can’t stand the Catholic Church, because it is a constant reminder that they don’t have total control –  that they can’t; only God can. And so, just as Herod tried to do with Jesus, the eternal King, they try to stamp out the Church, the eternal Kingdom. The Roman emperors tried. The barbarian tribes of northern Europe tried. The Medieval Islamic Caliphs tried. The French Revolutionaries tried. Napoleon tried – he even kidnapped the Pope, twice! The Nazis tried, and the Communists tried too, giving the twentieth century the bittersweet honor of having more Christian martyrs than any previous century. The tyrants of every generation try to take over the throne that only Christ can occupy, but the Church continues to survive, grow, and spread. A favorite example of this unconquerability of our Faith is found in St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was the Franciscan priest who died famously in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. A fellow prisoner had been condemned to death. But the condemned man had a family, and St. Maximilian had none, so the saint offered himself as a substitute. It was the crowning action of a string of selfless deeds that he performed throughout his imprisonment. Even the horrors of that concentration camp couldn’t conquer his Christian spirit. He celebrated secret masses on crowded, plank bunk beds; he secretly heard confessions walking through the mud to work; he even gave hope to his fellow death-row inmates: for fifteen days they prayed and sang hymns in the bunker where they were being starved to death. This is Christ the King’s everlasting, unconquerable, universal Kingdom. This is our Kingdom. This is our Church. (E- Priest).

25) 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 to Henry VIII  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 (the 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).

26) 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 the same people who declare self-determination their highest law and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning in their hearts Christ the King, will discover, when HE solemnly speaks those same words as the judgment of eternal damnation, the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. [John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online        Reflections; quoted by Fr. Botelho.]

27) A king of love, mercy and justice: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty.  There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BC there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads;  they burned cities;  they filled populous lands with death and devastation;  they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors;  they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff;  they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones;  they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities;  they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters;  they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs.” The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings,   summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love God with your whole being and love your neighbors as yourself.” In the ancient world where enemies were treated with great cruelty, and criminals were murdered mercilessly, this was a shocking message. But from this emerged the uniqueness of the Kingdom Jesus. On this code is grounded the power of His kingdom which will last forever. This has made the kingdom of Jesus different from all the kingdoms on the earth. History has seen the rise and fall of many empires. But history has not seen any empire other than the empire of Jesus that grows century after century. When the angel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus, he said, “His kingdom will have no end.”(Lk 1:33) The angel thus conformed the prophecy of Daniel: “His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.” (Dan 7:14). Fr. Bobby Jose.

28) Jesus is the king of hearts: Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian. To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings. The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another. Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us. Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials. But Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez).

29) Come unto me: A wonderful statue of Jesus the Christ exists in the cathedral of Denmark’s fairy-tale city of Copenhagen. The sculptor was the master Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen who died in 1844. He chose to sculpt a monumental Christ, the Christus, that would reveal Him in all His majesty. His hands would be raised as befitted His awesome power. His face would look out regally on everyone and everything. He would indeed be the King of kings, the Man in total control. It was done. “Jesus is the greatest figure in human history,” the sculptor said when the clay model was finished, “and this statue will so represent Him.” However, a funny thing happened on the way to the unveiling. The statue was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with the clay Christ statue. The upraised hands had drooped. They no longer commanded. Rather, they beseeched. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the Master’s chest. The person who wore this face had known many problems and was compassion itself. This was no longer a King before whom one would grovel and stutter, “Your Royal Majesty.” Rather, it was a Shepherd solicitous for every one of His sheep. At first, Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally conceived. Indeed, it might have been providentially planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “FOLLOW MY COMMANDS” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that was no longer appropriate. Instead he chiseled the softer message “COME UNTO ME.” To this day, this benign Nazarene touches the hearts and spirits of those who enter the Copenhagen cathedral. It is reported that often Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece reduces spectators to tears. In most probability, it has more of a genuine effect on them than his majestic Christ ever would have. The statue reminds them of His famous words to a puzzled Pontius Pilate in today’s Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Father James Gilhooley).

30) “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” I am sure that most of you have read the immortal play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. After the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and Cassius, the body of Caesar lies before the people.  It is then that Mark Anthony gives his famous speech reminding the people how much Caesar loved and cared for them.  He said, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him; the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones. So be it with Caesar. The noble Brutus has told you that Caesar was ambitious. If it were so, it was a grievous fault and grievously has Caesar answered it. Caesar was my friend, faithful and just to me. He has brought many captives here to Rome, whose ransom did the general coffers fill.” Then he mentioned Caesar’s will in which he made the Roman citizens his heir. — Often, we forget the good and great things people do to us. It took Mark Anthony to remind the Roman citizens of Caesar’s love and care. Then their hearts were set on fire. This morning may we remember the great love, care and power which Christ has bestowed upon us. L/18

31) 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.”( http://stjohngrandbay.org/wt/client/v2/story/WT_Story.cfm?SecKey=151).

32) Cruel, savage kings versus king Jesus Christ: The contemporaries of Jesus grew up hearing the stories of the cruelty of the ancient kings and rulers. Biblical Accounts give vivid descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrians. In 722 BC Assyrian armies swept through the Near East. They became notorious for their cruelty.  There are caves in Palestine to this day where we can find etched into cave-walls depictions of Assyrian cruelty: men beheaded, children disemboweled, pregnant women ripped open. The Assyrians did it. Up until the Assyrian assault there had been twelve tribes in Israel. The Assyrians slew ten. After 722 BCE there were only two tribes left, Judah and Benjamin. The other ten will never be seen again. The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads;  they burned cities;  they filled populous lands with death and devastation;  they reddened broad deserts with carnage of warriors;  they scattered whole countries with the corpses of their defenders as with chaff;  they impaled ‘heaps of men’ on stakes, and strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones;  they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls, and left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs on the entrance gates of cities;  they employed nations of captives in making brick in fetters;  they cut down warriors like weeds, or smote them like wild beasts in the forests, and covered pillars with the flayed skins of rival monarchs.” The contemporaries of Jesus also were familiar with the cruelties of the Roman emperors and King Herod. They knew how the kings in the ancient world treated their enemies. Against this background there arose a king with a different code of conduct. Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian king, created the first written set of laws. Since the laws were clearly written down, everyone was expected to obey them. But Jesus, the king of Kings   summarized all the laws into two and wrote them down in the hearts of men. He taught, “Love others as I have loved you.”(Fr. Bobby Jose).