The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Reading 1 2 SM 5:1-3
In those days, all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king,
it was you who led the Israelites out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you,
‘You shall shepherd my people Israel
and shall be commander of Israel.’”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron,
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD,
and they anointed him king of Israel.
Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Reading 2 COL 1:12-20
Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
Alleluia MK 11:9, 10
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel LK 23:35-43
The rulers sneered at Jesus and said,
“He saved others, let him save himself
if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”
Even the soldiers jeered at him.
As they approached to offer him wine they called out,
“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”
Above him there was an inscription that read,
“This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,
“Are you not the Christ?
Save yourself and us.”
The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,
“Have you no fear of God,
for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly,
for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,
but this man has done nothing criminal.”
Then he said,
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“David is indeed a cagey and capable new Adam, both tending and defending the new Eden,” so Robert Barron contends in his recent commentary on 2 Samuel (2 Samuel, Brazos Theological Commentary, p. 24). According to Barron, David is a new Adam, Israel is the Garden of Eden, and David’s enemies (e.g., the Amalekites, and even Absalom) represent the serpent. This typological approach is an interesting perspective from which to view 2 Samuel. It definitely causes one to think outside of the box. While this might seem like an eccentric approach at first, scholars have noted for years the connections between Genesis and 1&2 Samuel. In fact, Barron’s approach is indebted to G.K. Beale who makes similar comparisons (A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New). Although Barron’s overall approach has an element of typology in it, it would be unfair to characterize the entire commentary this way. In this post I will explore the connections he makes between King David’s kingdom and Genesis and in a future post I will review and evaluate his commentary on 2 Samuel.
Barron notes that the dominant theme of 2 Samuel is the “contrast between the kingly path taken by Saul and that taken by David” (p. 3). This contrast introduces such questions as: “Does Israel require a king? What makes a king good or bad? How does the kingship of Yahweh relate to human kingship?” (p. 3). To answer these questions, Barron asserts that it is necessary “to return to the very beginning of the Bible, to the accounts of creation and the garden of Eden” (p. 3). Therefore, Barron’s typological approach is borne out of the necessity of understanding the fundamental problems encountered in the initial episodes of Genesis. He notes, as do many commentators on Genesis, the original couple was created to rule over creation. They were given “dominion” (Gen. 1:28). Thus Adam was the first king. Through “tilling” the soil and “keeping” the garden, Adam functioned as a good king. His rule, like that of the God whose image he was created in (Gen. 1:27), was to be benevolent, not oppressive (pp. 4-5).
David Playing the Harp (1670) by Jan de Bray (Dutch painter, 1627-1697)
In a helpful analogy, Barron compares God and his law to someone seeking to learn piano or golf. The instructor lays down certain rules, if followed, these rules lead to a person finding the freedom to become an excellent piano player or golfer. “The lawgiving instructor is therefore not the enemy of the student’s freedom but rather the condition for its possibility” (p. 14). Similarly, Saul’s rejection of God’s commandments is what makes him a failure as king, just as Adam’s rule in the garden failed because of his disobedience. In contrast, as a new Adam, David is the man after God’s heart. One illustration of this is his treatment of Saul. Barron notes that, “David’s stubborn unwillingness to do violence to Saul is another sign of his kingly worthiness, for it indicates that his actions were predicated not primarily on self-interest but rather on an attentive listening to the voice of God” (p. 15).
See the rest:
My sisters and brothers,
Christ the King! So many of us no longer have any sense of what it means to have a king over us, a ruler who makes all of the important decisions, a ruler who truly cares of us and seeks the good of the people. The readings today are based on an understanding of kingship that no longer exists in our world, for the most part.
Yet we are invited to consider how Christ is our King and how He comes into our lives as a king, but as a servant king. Jesus Christ is a king who seeks only our good and the good of all. Jesus is a king who guides us from humility, not from power. Jesus has all power and all might and all majesty, but willingly puts all of that aside to become one of us and to sacrifice His life for us.
The first reading today is from the Second Book of Samuel and recounts how David became King of Israel. David became king because the people wanted a king other than the God of Heaven. Nevertheless, the great God of Heaven allowed the people to have a king. David was truly a wonderful king, even in his sinfulness. What was most important was his love for the God of Heaven.
Our King is the God of Heaven and yet this great God of Heaven has come to us as a human, yet without sin. God humbles Himself to save us.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Colossians. This passage describes exactly how Jesus is King of all—again by humbling Himself. This one phrase expresses the whole of the mystery: “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him.” Jesus is all and yet allows Himself to be killed for us so that we might live. This is a king willing to give His life for His people.
The Gospel of Luke today gives us the account of the crucifixion of Jesus. This is true kingship: dying for the people. So many still do not recognize that leadership, kingship, can be expressed in humility. Power comes in weakness. The true leader dies for his people. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Your brother in the Lord,
Many of us aspire to be leaders. We compete with others for leadership, whether it is in politics, religion or in the corporate world. But how many of us really understand the implications and responsibilities of leadership? We all tend to think of the honours, privileges and glory but fail to reckon the cost and sacrifices a leader has to make. Having attained the power of leadership, what is more important is to be a good leader. Who, then, is a true leader?
In the olden days, the King was not just a ceremonial figure but he had to exercise real leadership, not just in governance but he was the one who led the army in important military expeditions. He was a ruler but also a military warrior. Consequently, he proved his worth by walking the talk, leading the people and showing the way. The king was one who showed himself to be the protector of his people. He guided the people and showed them the way to success and progress. He ensured that his people had enough to eat and that they all lived in harmony. For this reason, the kings in those days were highly respected and given absolute authority, not simply because they were kings but because of their personal authority.
Drawing from this analogy, a leader today must lead in all ways. He must be a leader who not just shows the way but walks the way. This is the greatest authority of a leader. His authority cannot simply come from his election or office, but to gain the respect of others he is required to lead through personal example. Indeed, his personal authority is more important than his juridical authority. This was the case of the ancient kings and lords. If they served the people well and led by example, as in the case of King David, the country progressed. Those kings who failed to live moral lives and lives of integrity eventually not just weakened the state but also lost their moral authority to rule over the people.
In the second reading, St Paul shows us how Jesus was a leader in life and in death. Indeed, “He was first to be born from the dead, so that he should be first in every way; because God wanted all perfection to be found in him.” Christ, having perfected Himself in his humanity through His self-sacrificing love and service, is the model leader for how we should live our lives.
A leader’s primary task is to be a source of unity for all his people. St Paul wrote, “Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity. Now the Church is his body, he is its head … and all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth.” A leader must seek to bring the different factions and diverse groups of peoples with different cultures, languages, preferences, needs, aspirations and views together. He advocates sensitivity, mutual respect, collaboration and, most of all, ensures that justice is served to all without exception, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor impartially.
A leader is a minister or a servant, whether in political or religious terms. He makes himself small, since a leader is a servant of his people. All leadership is servant leadership. As servants, we put ourselves last and always put the welfare and the well-being of our people before our own. Leadership is not about ourselves, but always about our people. Only when we understand this fundamental principle, can we aspire to leadership. We become leaders not to fulfill our egoistic needs or to have a better life, to get honour or recognition and position or to control people. We seek leadership only because we think we can make a difference in the lives of others.
To perform this task of true leadership calls for leadership from the cross. It is significant that in today’s gospel, those watching the Lord on the cross said to him, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Repeatedly, they challenged Jesus, “Save yourself!” This is rather ironical and paradoxical. In the eyes of the world, a leader saves himself first. He is always protected from his enemies. He has security guards surrounding him all the time to ensure that his potential assassins do not harm him. Thus, they said to Jesus, “Save yourself!”
If Christ is our king, He must therefore reign from the Cross. His cross was His throne. This is what St John says, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:14f) It is also very significant and appropriate, though ironical, that the enemies who hung the crime on the top of the cross proclaimed Him as the King of the Jews. Indeed, Christ showed Himself to be the true leader because He gave up His life for us. Such is the meaning of leadership. To be a leader is to give up one’s life for the greater good of others. Like the Good Shepherd who gave up His life for His sheep, a good leader is one who gives up his life, his convenience, his freedom, his privacy, his time, his pleasures and his personal needs; he dies to himself. In dying, he lives because he would then have fulfilled his role as a leader.
To reign from the cross is to be with Jesus and Mary at the cross and on the cross. We are not to ask Jesus to come down from the cross but instead to stay with Him on the cross. It is a life of crucifixion because being in leadership is not just about service. As leaders we will often be misunderstood and wrongly accused of many things. Many will not agree with us and say all kinds of things that are untrue or, worse still, communicate half-truths to the people and cause them to be divided and lose respect for us.
To reign from the cross means that in spite of unjust and innocent sufferings, like Jesus on the cross, a leader must be forgiving and pray for his enemies without taking revenge. He needs to show generosity and magnanimity in forgiving those who hurt him and seek to destroy him. With Jesus on the cross, we pray for our enemies and say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:24) This is what leadership from the cross is all about, a compassionate, forgiving and selfless leadership. It is about being crucified with the Lord in the act of service.
To reign from the cross then means that we must be ready to allow Christ to reign in our lives. All Christian leaders must allow Christ to be their leader before they can lead others. Whilst all the others rejected Christ as their king, it is ironical that the Good Thief acknowledged Jesus as the King. He said, “’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.” This man was asking Jesus to bring Him into the kingdom when He dies. But Jesus told him that at this moment he was already with Him in paradise. In other words, when we are with Jesus and He is reigning in our hearts, at any point of time, we are already in the kingdom of Christ. We do not need to wait for the end of time. To live in Jesus is to live in His kingdom.
To reign from the cross, means that we allow God to rule in us. Instead of using our human strength and logic, we rely on God’s wisdom. Whilst David came to power because of his military might, the Lord reigned in weakness on the cross. It was the power of weakness against all logic of the world. We trust that humility, selfless service, compassion and forgiveness will be more powerful than might, power, domination and strength. Christian leadership relies on the paschal faith, entrusting ourselves to Him on the cross, especially in times of helplessness. We do not ask the Lord to take away our cross just as we do not ask Jesus to come down from the cross. But through obedience to the cross unto death, we will share in the triumph of the resurrection.
Finally, to reign from the cross, means to take confidence in Jesus who promised to be with us and pray for us. We must not think that we can save Jesus and the Church by our own strength. That was what St Peter thought. He tried to save Jesus from death after His prophecy of His imminent passion. Like him, we cannot tolerate the weakness and helplessness of a leader. The conversion of Peter was complete when he gave up trying to “save” Jesus and instead allowed Himself to be saved by Him. So let us take heart in our Lord’s promise to be with us when He told St Peter, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Lk 22:32) In truth, only in our weakness as leaders, do we know that we cannot do it with our strength but only in the power of the Spirit. The Lord assured St Paul as He assured St Peter, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Cor 12:9a) Hence, St Paul wrote, “So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Cor 12:9b) Again, he wrote, “So then, we are weak, as he was, but we shall live with him, through the power of God, for your benefit.” (2 Cor 13:4)
Homily By Fr. Bill Elser
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
How many of you believe that “history repeats itself?” Those who say yes, would probably admit that history doesn’t repeat itself in certain situations in every detail, but enough that we can say “it’s happening again” and either have joy, anger or sorrow about “it.”
Almost 90 years ago, Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ The King through the encyclical “Quas Primas” (In The First”) to respond to the growing SECULARISM (the adoration of idols) that was happening most clear and strongly in that time in Mexico, Russia and Europe. Fast forward from then until now, and there are many who believe that secularism is now, in out time rearing its ugly head in the United States and more than a few other countries and even continents throughout the world.
I hope you would agree and I think you will if you have a grasp of history, that since the founding of our country, the relationship of faith and culture has grown apart in some, (and when you think about where we are now), they’ve grown apart in many and in alarming ways. There was a time when people’s faith lives were strong and influenced not only individuals and family lives, but also the life of our country. In our lifetime (at least most of us) we can remember the popularity of Bishop Sheen with his weekly program. It spoke volumes of where people’s priorities were at that time. Can you begin to imagine a bishop, archbishop, or even cardinal having such a weekly program on network television today?
Whereas for much of our country’s history, the Constitution led our country’s leaders to protect our religious freedoms from intrusion by our government, things have moved away, some would say far away from that to recently where there are people, government leaders and citizens who believe that our government needs to be protected from intrusion by religion. There are plenty who are working diligently to prevent the Christian conscience from influencing public policy. The so called HHS mandate, where the department of Health and Human Services has required even objecting employers, including Church employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives including drugs that cause early abortions is a strong example of the government defining and dividing the religious community.
The wall of separation between Church and State, though not in the Constitution has become a wall of enclosure, not protection, as people of faith are gradually relegated to celebrating our faith only within the privacy of their homes or within the walls of their places of public worship. If we “dare” to venture beyond these walls and seek to bring truth (and we still believe there is objective truth that comes from God directly through Jesus Christ), into the public arena, we are accused of “imposing ” our views by the same people who are trying to impose a wall of isolation around the Church.
Any true, sincere student of American history knows just how far this is from the founding years of our country.
I have a feeling many of us would respond yes or Amen to the statement that while America did not create religious liberty (that’s a liberty whose source is God), that RELIGIOUS LIBERTY MADE AMERICA.
Being a disciple of Christ, (and I want to comment that there are scripture scholars who believe and teach that Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty was specifically referring to his disciples, those who learn, teach and live the Gospel as “the creed” of truth and life), being a disciple means, among other things bringing our faith from the walls of worship into the public square in many different ways. Pope Francis made this clear when he said this: “Religious freedom is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately AND PUBLICLY consequent to the truth one has found.” We are among a large number who believe that “the Truth” can be found in a perfect way through Jesus Christ, our King, our shepherd, our Lord.
We need this feast of Christ the King, more so than ever NOW to say firmly and loudly that Jesus Christ is King like no other. While he himself said to Pilate, “my kingdom is not of this world,” his kingdom which we believe lasts for all eternity has great implications for this world until the end of time. He has no desire (like some do) to conquer lands, he desires to conquer hearts and be the king of our hearts. When he does, we recognize and hopefully lead others to recognize the dignity of all persons, we are committed to justice, we have a great love for the poor, and recognize and use the gifts we have to promote the common good.
I think it would be good to end this homily with reflections of Pope Pius XI on what was happening in his time that led him to establish the feast we are celebrating today. I think you’ll agree it sounds like our times.
“The empire of Christ over all nations was rejected. The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was being denied.
Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of prices and rulers.”
Does any of this sound familiar? Let us then do what we can in prayer and action to not let history repeat itself in ways that bring great harm to us, our nation, our world and generations to come.
If I can be of any help to you, please do not hesitate to call me at the church office, 501-922-2062 Ext. 11 or on my cell phone, 501-209-2502. You may also send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God’s blessings be upon you this day and everyday of your life.
Tags: 2 Sm 5:1-3, Christ the King, Col 1:12-20, David is the new Adam, Feast of Christ the King, he is the chosen one the Christ of God, If you are King of the Jews save yourself., Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord, Lk 23:35-43, MK 11:9 10, November 20 2016, Prayer and Meditation, Psalm 122, Robert barron, The Abbot in the Desert, today you will be with me in Paradise