Sunday Sermon for November 20, 2022, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C

Readings: 2 Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43

In the first reading today we hear about the people of Israel coming to King David in Hebron.  David was already the King in Judea, but with this invitation from the northern tribes of Israel, David became the King of all of Israel or, as we might say, the twelve tribes of Israel.  The good part of this is that Israel was united once again; the bad part is that God was supposed to be the King in Israel.  It is true God chose David to be King, but that is because the people of Israel did not want God to be their King.

We have a similar choice to make because, as St. Paul tells us in the second reading, God has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son.   This means God, in the Person of His Son, is King once again.  We like the Israelites, can come to Him and ask Him to he our King, that is, the King Who reigns in our hearts.

There are some things we need to be aware of when we consider our Lord to be our King.  First, as we see in the Gospel, the title of our Lord’s “crime” as Pilate placed above His head, is that He is the King of the Jews.  Jesus is King, not because He is the Son of God, but because He is the Redeemer.  As God, He is infinitely higher than anything in creation so, in that sense, we could say He is King. However, with our Lord, Kingship is not about being the highest or the most powerful, it is about service.  He is King because He made Himself the lowest, took our sins to Himself, and nailed them to the Cross.

We know from what we read in Scripture that God is love, but when we see that love being expressed in the Passion of our Lord, it takes on greater weight.  Some may bristle at the thought of opening their heart to One Who is crowned with thorns instead of jewels, One Whose appearance is not externally attractive, One Whose throne is a rough and bloody Cross rather than a beautiful and comfortable chair.  However, all of us have suffering in our lives and we have a King Who understands our pain, Who is suffering with us and in us when we open our hearts to Him.  

It may appear to be more pleasant to envision Jesus in glory, seated at the right hand of His Father.  But when we are suffering, it is a blessing to unite with One Who did not turn away from suffering.  When we are tempted, it is wonderful to know we have Someone Who was tempted in every way we are but did not sin.  When we are attacked by the devil, it is such a consolation to know Jesus faced off with Satan and resoundingly defeated the vile creature through His Cross and resurrection.

Because of His Passion and death, our King has reconciled all things in Himself.  He is the central point of all creation.  St.  Paul tells us He reconciled all things, both in Heaven and on earth.  Because He is God, all things exist in Him, so He alone is able to unite everything in Himself.  Human sin, as well as the angelic rebellion, brought chaos and division into the order and beauty of God’s creation.  In Jesus that has all been restored.  We do not yet see this externally, but if we are willing to allow Him to be the King of our lives, living in our hearts, then we can find the peace, the order, and the beauty we seek and desperately need in this world that knows no peace.

On Calvary, we hear one of the thieves reviling Jesus and saying to Him: ”Save yourself and us.”  Of course, he meant that Jesus should take Himself and the thief down from the Cross.  Instead, Jesus, like a warrior King, faced His enemy, and the enemy of humanity, and saved us by not coming down from His Cross.  He, of course, did not need to be saved from anything or anyone, but since He was undergoing His Passion for us, He did not spare Himself anything.  Rather, He accepted everything for us because He loves us.  

We only know, without doubt, that we are loved when someone suffers with us and, even more, when they suffer for us.  We have a King Who came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for us.  There was nothing in it for Himself.  This is real love; open your heart and allow your King, the King of true love, to be enthroned within!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.

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