Tag Archives: Feast of Christ the King

Christ, the King

Audio for the homily below:

In one of his songs, Bruce Springteen sings,

“Poor man wanna be rich,

Rich man wanna be king.

And a king ain’t satisfied

Till he rule over everything.”

That’s the normal road power takes, isn’t it? But it wasn’t the road Jesus Christ took. He ended up a poor man on a cross who had nothing. On either side of him were two criminals who also had nothing– except the prospect of death.

Jesus becomes the king of the poor, the God of the needy, our gospel today says. He speaks in their behalf and he judges others by what they have done to them. What’s more, he claims that when we help those in need, we meet him.

“I was thirsty, I was hungry, I was sick, I was in prison, I was a stranger.”

“When did we see you thirsty, hungry, sick, in prison, a stranger?” those who come before him ask–and we are among them. “When you did it to the least, “ Jesus says.

Mother Teresa had a beautiful response for those who wondered how she kept doing so much for the poor. “We must see Christ in disguise,” she said. Her words are good advice for us who wish to do what this gospel says we should.

We have to see Christ in disguise, not simply a figure from some far off past, or a heavenly presence beyond our reach. He is close to us, as close as the one beside us at home or just outside our door, who needs one of the simple gifts we can give.

Christ, the King

Christ majesty chartre
Luke’s gospel for the Feast of Christ the King presents Jesus, not in a royal palace, but on a dark desolate hill. He’s not surrounded by cheering crowds, but by people cursing his name. He has no crown of gold, but a crown of thorns. His robe lies torn from him, heaped on the ground soaked in his blood. His throne is a cross, and over the cross is the inscription: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

We are tempted to see not power but failure here. But listen to the gospel. One of the criminals calls out to the wretched figure hanging next to him: “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” And power goes out from him. “This day you will be with me in paradise.

The thief is an interesting figure in the gospel. He has no name, nothing is known of his life or his crime. There he is, desperate, thinking all is gone. Powerless, no one would take a chance on him. Who would bother with him? Who would come close to him? Only a God who in the person of Jesus Christ would come so low as to share a cross with him.

The thief has no name. Christian tradition says he bears everyone’s name. In the thief we see ourselves, our desperate, poor, powerless selves. Yes, that is how much Christ loves us. He will always be close to us.