Christ the King

Christ the King
Beginning as early as grade school we became familiar with many kings who have reigned throughout history. They come in all shapes and sizes.
There were good kings and bad kings, strong kings weak kings. In fact some were downright wimpy kings. Charles of France was one. Joan of Arc literally gave her life so that he might be anointed king. But there was no one more undeserving in the whole of France than he was.

Kings were also known as emperors, rulers, Caesars. Some were so impressive that they were known by the word Great, as in Alexander the Great, king of Greece. Or Herod the Great. Herod, the man who would have killed the infant Jesus, was called great because of his great building projects.
Most kings in history I would say were benevolent, good rulers, but in some cases we know that they were also despots, dictators, who “lorded” it over the people.

Most kings have lived in the secular realm but, some of them also lived in the religious realm. You know that our ancient Jewish ancestors didn’t have kings because God was supposed to be their only king. But they always wanted to fit in, to be like their neighbors, and so they demanded a king. And God gave them one, Saul, who proved to be a poor leader. He was replaced by a good leader, chosen by God himself, and anointed by the prophet Nathan. King David, whom we consider the ancestor of Jesus whom we celebrate today as The King of Kings.
And David’s son Solomon was perhaps the most famous king of all time, known for his wisdom.
In the New Testament era there certainly have been many religious kings and some of them even became saints. Louis IX of France, for instance, was the benevolent and saintly king of France. The only French king ever canonized. We’ve named a city after him in Missouri.
Now these days we have mixed feelings about Kings, fueled by the ideas of deep thinkers, attitudes began to change. In France it was known as “The Enlightenment” when the philosophers began to exert their influence on the masses encouraging them to throw off the yoke of the royalty.
And it was all quite successful. France used to be known as “The Eldest Daughter of the Church, but The French Revolution changed all that. During the Reign of Terror, they threw out not only the royalty, but also the Catholic Church too. Anything that resembled kingship or authority had to go. It was the first example of “Power to the People!”
After the dust had settled, France kind of reverted to its former ways. But the influence continued. We here in the United States had our own revolution in which we too threw off the yoke of Great Britain and King George. Our form of government would be different. No king, no emperors, but presidents, and a Congress elected by the people. We retained the right to worship. No persecution of the Church, no one lost their head.
But we still have our fascination with royalty. Don’t we just eat up any news about kings and queens? I personally have always loved Queen Elizabeth of England. I’ve watched her all my life. Popes have come and gone but the queen still keeps pluggin away. I feel as if I know her. I was not particularly fond of Chuck and Di, and I’m not that interested in the movements of Will and Kate, and now, the kids, George and Charlotte. But the paparazzi follow close behind and like I said, the people seem to love it.

The king we celebrate today here at the end of the liturgical year 2015 is unique. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Only problem is that most people don’t recognize him as such.
He was different. He didn’t fit the mold of what the world considers royalty. When he stood before the rulers of his time, they didn’t recognize him, and most of the people didn’t either. Remember, the Jews had a misguided idea of who God was. They were looking for a messiah, but expected, or hoped for, somebody like King David, a military leader who would kick the Romans out of town.
But when Jesus stood before Pilate he said “My kingdom is not of this world.” Nevertheless, he would soon be crowned, but with a Crown of Thorns, a mockery by the Roman soldiers in charge of punishing him.

I’m pretty sure when I talked about Jesus as King of Kings last year, I must’ve said something about what it means to be a son or daughter, or brother or sister, or a friend, of the king.
Our status as human creatures of God makes our relationship with him special. He is a Trinity, a family of persons . So, no matter how you look at it, we too are…. royalty. . With that comes certain perks. We have rights, and privileges that come with our office, but we also have duties and obligations. I have referred to it as the noblesse oblige, the obligation of the nobility, the obligation to act nobly, and with the great dignity.
Our position calls us to be emissaries to the king.
One of the practices from ancient times is that when a king came to town he was preceded by a emissary who went ahead to announce his coming. Use your imaginations a little bit. The emissary rides into town on a horse or in a chariot, blows the trumpet, opens a scroll, and shouts “hear ye, hear ye, citizenry of the Kingdom. People, get ready, a king is coming. Be prepared to welcome a Royal Visitor. Clean yourselves up. Put on your best clothing. Mind your P’s and Q’s.
In the religious sense, think of all the prophets that announced the coming of Jesus. the shepherds of Bethlehem, and the magi. Then, John the Baptist, the herald of his coming. Make straight in the desert a highway, for our God.
Well, the situation is different now. Looking at our current landscape, it appears that Jesus has again been rejected by this world. But, he did promise that he would come again, in glory. Now this is where we come in as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends, and emissaries of the king. We are called upon to announce his coming. His Second Coming, his coming again, in glory. Like lightening across the sky, for all to see.
His coming has been delayed, but it still would seem that something is happening. There are “signs of the times”. We can only speculate on what’s going on out there, but I think that the people of the world are getting verrrrry nervous. The situation is dire, and I don’t think it takes too much imagination to see that we are helpless against this present evil. Well, almost helpless.
In a conversation I had with Fr. Lobert last week after the terror attacks, he posed the question of what we would say if some confused, fearful, nervous, distraught person came to us and asked for some help. “ Father, “ someone asks, “what the heck is happening to our world? I’m afraid.”
I didn’t hesitate to say that I would encourage them to memorize, and recite regularly, and sincerely, a short phrase. You should know it. It was in the bulletin a few weeks ago. The phrase is actually request, a plea: Lord have mercy!
And I’d take it further. I might include a story of mercy. And my favorite is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The smart-alec son takes his inheritance, and goes out on his own. He had the world on a string, he was “enlightened” .
But we know the story. Life takes a turn for the worse, and he gets in trouble. He’s in a panic and doesn’t know what to do or where to turn. There’s no way out. So he swallows his pride and returns to his father, who is thrilled to see him. “Return to me and I will return to you”. Remember, the father ran out to greet him.
We will begin a Jubilee Year of Mercy in a few weeks and so we here will be discussing much about this concept of mercy, which has been called God’s greatest attribute.
Our most basic task as Catholic Christians will to be there for anyone who needs a listening ear. To be salt and light to a dark world , to be emissaries of our brother the kind and benevolent, and merciful King, Jesus.
Will you be ready with some sound advice, gentle encouragement, and words of enlightenment?
As we approach the threshold of a new liturgical year, let me leave you with a bible passage that seems appropriate for today, but also for the beginning of the Season of Advent. It’s from Luke Chapter 1 and the angel Gabriel is speaking to “the queen mother”.
Gabriel said, :”And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of David, his father, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

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