Sunday Sermon for November 24, 2019, 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 occasion when all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and asked him to be the king of all of Israel. At that time David had been king over a Judah, but on this occasion the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were united and David became king over the entire Chosen People. This fulfilled God’s initial promise to David when he was anointed as the successor of Saul, the king of Israel, by the Prophet Samuel.
However, this reading has even greater importance for us because when the Angel Gabriel appeared to our Blessed Lady at the Annunciation, he told her that the Son to be born from her would sit on the throne of David, His Father. This fulfills the second promise God made to David regarding his kingship: one of his descendants would be seated upon his throne. A string of fifty kings followed after David, but David never could have imagined how God’s promise to him would be fulfilled in such a glorious manner.
As the King of the Universe, Jesus, the Son of David, is enthroned as King forever. Of course, our Lord is also the Son of God, but He is King because of His charity as our Redeemer. Our Lord told us He came to serve, not to be served; He is King because of His service. From all eternity He is the Son of God, but He became King because He took our humanity to Himself and then took our sins to Himself so we could be transferred into His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ the King. One could say with St. Paul in the second reading that He is King because He is the “firstborn of all creation.” As God, He is the Creator; as man crucified and risen, He is the firstborn of all creation.
When we consider humanity’s perspective, the charge Pilate pronounced in the Praetorium he put in writing on the cross: Jesus is the King. While the inscription proclaimed Him to be the King of the Jews, as we read in the Gospel, we know He went to the Cross for all humanity, not just the Jewish people. Even the thief from his cross recognized that our Lord’s Kingdom was not of this world. In fact, it is clear that he understood the Kingdom of Christ would be established only after His death. For this reason, St. Dismas addressed our Lord, saying: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
This is an amazing statement made by one dying man to another! Why would anyone ask a favor from someone who is dying? Perhaps someone might ask for a person’s possessions that will be left behind, but Dismas was looking forward. He was looking to the time when the Kingdom of Christ would be established. Jesus was hanging from the Cross, beaten and bloody, drawing near to death. Dismas was asking for something that would require life after death. He was addressing a poor man Who had been condemned as his King. Clearly Dismas was given a special grace to make such a bold act of faith.
But we do not celebrate Jesus as simply the King of humanity or even as the King of the world; we celebrate Jesus as King of the Universe. St. Paul says all fullness was pleased to dwell in Him, and through Him all things were reconciled. Prior to this St. Paul reminds us that all things in heaven and on earth were created through Him and for Him. Then St. Paul says Jesus is before all things and that in Him all things hold together. Again, this is an absolute statement. So, if Jesus created all things and all things were created for Him, then in keeping all things together and reconciling all things in His Person, Jesus shows Himself to be the King of all. Not only is Jesus King of all persons, He is King of all things. The whole universe is His.
The vast majority of creation acknowledges Jesus as King. However, angels and human persons have been given an intellect and a free will, so unlike other creatures, we need to choose whether or not we will receive Jesus as our King. He has dominion over all, but He will not force us to accept Him or His authority. The evidence is overwhelming, but a third of the angels and the much of humanity has rejected Him, His love, His mercy, and His Kingship. We need to pray for the faith of St. Dismas, look upon our Lord on the Cross, recognize Him seated on the throne of David, and boldly proclaim Him to be our King!
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.