Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for the Feast of Christ the King

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

Ever since it was instituted as a feast for the universal church in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, the feast of Christ the King has been the topic of much heated comment. To some critics at the time it looked like the Church reaffirming its choice of monarchy as the preferred type of civil government. To still other critics it seemed a reassertion of the Church’s own style of absolutist monarchical government. There may have been some truth in those opposing views. But they were not the reasons specified by Pius XI in the encyclical that established the feast. He wished the feast rather to be a reminder of the benefits of calm order, of harmony and peace that should reign in society and that was so missing in the time Pius was living in. He was, of course, drawing on the image of an ideal king who rules with wisdom, justice and understanding—that was outdated for his time. The pope also wanted a public consecration to the heart of the Redeemer on this Sunday.

That last point brings us a little closer to the enduring value of this feast: that when Jesus Christ comes again in glory, he will judge all people and all things in the light of his own heart. That is so beautifully exemplified by the gospel passage today of Jesus on the cross with the repentant thief: "This day you will be with me in paradise." We miss the whole meaning of the feast if we get caught up in the pros and cons about whether "king" is an appropriate description for Jesus Christ or discussion about monarchy as the best form of government. It’s all about Jesus in his glorious, future coming "to judge the living and the dead." And that judgment will be according to the values shown in the earthly life of Jesus.

In Jesus own teaching, he proclaims a divine judgment on all individuals and groups. We are not free to do anything we want; all people will someday have to answer for the actions of their lives. A judgment by God is real. The early Christians handed on this belief in a coming judgment by Jesus Christ as a clear and unambiguous statement of their faith. "For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Cor. 5:10) In addition, they believed that the criteria of God’s judgment on human life were reflected in Jesus’ human life, particularly in his dealings with other people. How people follow the example of Jesus’ actions determines the norms of their own judgment. Thus, the words and actions of Jesus become especially important in the hope we have for that coming judgment.

So I would invite you to relax, close your eyes and listen to these words of Jesus spoken to individuals in his own lifetime, words that will likely be spoken by Jesus from his seat of judgment:

"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace." (Mk 5:34)

"Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid." (Mk 6:50)

"I do so choose. Be made clean" (Lk 5:13)

"Friend, your sins are forgiven you." (Lk 5:20)

"Do not weep. Young man, I say to you: arise." (Lk 7:13-14)

"Woman, has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you." (Jn 8:10-11)

"Amen, I say to you, this day you will be with me in paradise." (Lk 23:43)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should make somthing to remind u of Father Stan