Sunday Sermon for November 25, 2012, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year B

Readings: Dan 7:13-14; Rev 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37

In the Gospel reading today Jesus testifies to Pilate that He is a King, but His Kingdom is not of this world. If His Kingdom were of this world, He says, His subjects would be fighting to keep Him from being handed over to the Romans. As His subjects, we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we are in this world while being citizens of a Kingdom which is not of this world.

In fact, the Prophet Daniel had a vision, about which we hear in the first reading, in which he sees the glory of God and then one like a Son of Man being given dominion, glory and kingship. All of this, according to what Daniel was given to understand, took place in Heaven, at the throne of the “Ancient One.”

So, His Kingship is granted to Him in Heaven, but in the second reading we are told that Jesus has made us into a kingdom and He has made us priests for God our Father. This means that the Kingship is received in Heaven but human beings while still on earth are part of that Kingdom even though the Kingdom is not earthly in itself.

If the Kingdom is not established as an earthly kingdom then the only way we can be part of that Kingdom is if we are raised up to be part of something that surpasses our natural ability. This is exactly what has occurred. When we were baptized we were made members of Jesus and incorporated into His Kingdom. This is why St. Paul can tell the Philippians that our citizenship is in Heaven.

This is a great comfort, but it is still a challenge to grasp the depth of such a truth. What we have to remember always is the scene from our Lord’s temptation where Satan says that all the kingdoms of the world have been given over to him. Should we be surprised to see God being rejected by society? Should we be surprised that those who follow Jesus are persecuted?

Since we are citizens of Heaven, we have to be sure that we keep God at the center of our lives, even when society wants Him removed completely. We have to be faithful to our King Who has shown us the true cost of love and fidelity. The results of our recent election has many people upset, but if all the kingdoms of earth have been given over to Satan, why would we be surprised? We need to learn to see things from a truly Christian perspective.

Looking at Jesus and what He did for us (remember, He was only proclaimed King when He was on the Cross) allows us to rejoice in the recent events which, on the natural level, would lead us to despair. We can rejoice because those who will choose to serve Jesus will have to do so in the same manner in which His Kingship was established. If we live physically in a kingdom which belongs to Satan, then we have to expect enmity for those who live spiritually in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

When our Lord told Pilate that His Kingdom was not of this world, this truth was demonstrated not only by the proclamation of His Kingship being hung above His crowned Head, but especially by the fact that in the crucifixion our Lord was lifted up from this world and suspended between Heaven and earth. His Kingdom was established when He was lifted up from the earth. Therefore, if we are going to live as loyal subjects of that Kingdom, does it not make sense that this will be demonstrated in us when we are spiritually suspended between Heaven and earth?

In other words, we show ourselves to be true citizens of the Kingdom of Christ only when we are united with Him in His rejection and crucifixion. So, on the natural level, there is much to be saddened by; but we are not to be living in a merely natural manner. We are called to live in a way that elevates us above what is natural.

Our King blazed the trail that leads to His Kingdom and the bridge at the end of that trail that brings us from this world into that Kingdom is the Cross. For too long we have been able to claim citizenship in His Kingdom without living it. Recent events may finally provide the means for us to be true subjects of Christ, not fighting for a worldly kingdom, but fighting a spiritual battle for the King of Heaven. This is our dignity and identity; for too long it has been hidden. We proclaim Jesus as our King, but the time for lip service has ended; our way of life must proclaim that Jesus Christ is 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