Catholic homily for the Solemnity of Christ the King Year B
Theme: MY UNIVERSAL KING
By: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong at St Mary Magdalene Cath. Church, Omaha, USA.
Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe
1. Court Joke. Our Lord is judged by Pilate in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 18:33b-37). So let’s start with a courtroom joke. A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this defense: “My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offense committed by his limb.” “Well put,” the judge replied. “Using your logic, I sentence the defendant’s arm to 2 years’ imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses.” The defendant smiled. With his lawyer’s assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out!
2. Kingdom of Truth and Life. Dear sisters and brothers, the Scripture readings today, the prayers, the preface of the Mass, all clearly state how and why our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe. The preface further describes comprehensively the characteristics of the Kingdom of God. It is “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Today’s solemnity acknowledges Christ as the King of the Universe but even more importantly, challenges each of us to become subjects of this Kingdom with all our limbs, hearts, minds, soul and being. It is this challenge, this invitation, that plays out in Pilate’s court or Praetorium. Although Pontius Pilate was the judge here, in full truth, it was our Lord Jesus giving Pilate an opportunity for salvation. Yes, Pilate and the rest of us are presented with the opportunity to listen to the truth, the truth in our conscience, the truth of the Gospel. Our Lord says clearly: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” But just as you and I do sometimes, Pilate went for half-truths, incomplete truths, hearsays, convenient truths, selective truths, etc, which are all forms of lies. “Are you the king of the Jews?”, Pilate asked. It seemed convenient for Pilate to have Christ as the king of the Jews, and not the King of the Universe, for then, Pilate would not be under Christ! It would seem convenient for you and me to have Christ as King of some parts of us, but not King of our entire being. Our Lord’s universal Kingdom is a Kingdom of truth and life; complete truth for my entire life.
3. Kingdom of Justice, Love and Peace. Yes, my entire life, my entire being is what Christ came to save. Therefore, the invitation and challenge He put before Pilate, is the invitation He puts before you and me: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” By listening to His voice of truth, we can then carry out justice, which is truth in action. That is how today’s 1st reading (Dan 7:13-14) becomes fulfilled in each of us: “all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.” We serve Him through justice or truth in action, by doing what Pilate failed to do, namely, ensuring that the innocent is acquitted, rather than washing our hands off. To me, the most interesting part of working for justice for the oppressed is that it is also a form of charity for the oppressor. When victims of abuse in any form (domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, etc) are set free, as a work of justice, then abusers and oppressors are shown true love. Yes, justice for the oppressed is charity to the oppressor for it gives the oppressor or abuser a chance to repent, a chance to join the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, love and peace. Of course, easier said than done.
But the good news is that Christ, the Universal King, has actually freed us from the greatest hindrance to our salvation, our own sins, as the 2nd reading (Rev 1:5-8) reminded us: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom…” Our Universal King now invites us to join Him in building His kingdom of justice, love and peace, by becoming subject to His rule in the entirety of our being. In fact, in seting aside this day for special reckoning of our Universal King, Pope Pius XI wrote in 1925: “If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; … He must reign in our minds….He must reign in our wills….He must reign in our hearts… He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.” (Pius XI, Quas Primas, #33, Rom 6:13). I’m praying at this Mass for the grace to allow Christ to become fully my Universal King by serving Him with all my will, soul and body, even with artificial limbs, with everything He has given me and with anything with which I am connected. Amen.