Homily — Christ the King B November 26, 2006

Homily — Christ the King B MMVI November 26, 2006

Christ in Majesty by Blessed Fra Angelico

Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own, or have others told you about me?”

Today’s Solemnity of Christ the King is one of the newest Liturgical Feast Days of our Catholic Church.

The Church has celebrated liturgically the Feast of Easter every year since the first Easter. She’s celebrated Christmas every year for at least the past 1700 years. For 1300 years we’ve celebrated the Assumption of the Virgin Mary throughout the Church, while St. Joseph’s Day only became a universal feast in the 1600s.

But even St. Joseph’s Feast Day is ancient compared to today’s Feast, which was first established and celebrated in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

While the feast day is relatively new, the doctrine of the universal kingship of Christ goes back even to Old Testament times.

For example, in Isaiah 9 we read “For unto us a child is born, a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his shall be called wonderful counselor ….prince of peace.”

Psalm 72 “He (the King) shall endure . . . . from age to age . . . . (and) shall rule from sea to sea . . . . Before Him all Kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve Him.”

And then on the first pages of the New Testament, The Angel Gabriel said to Mary at the Annunciation “Of His Kingdom there will be no end.” — words which we have incorporated in the ancient Niceaen Creed we say each Sunday at Mass.

We see the pagan Magi, the wise men, bringing gold to the Manger at Jesus’ Birth, acknowledging His authority over them even as an infant, while at the same time King Herod, wrongly feeling threatened by the Infant Christ’s Kingship, is trying to kill him.

And finally at the Ascension, Jesus says to His disciples All power in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.

So it’s plain to see that referring to Christ as “The King” has been there since the beginning of the faith. So, why then did Pope Pius XI in the early part of the 20th Century suddenly decide to make this Sunday a special feast in honor of Christ the King?

Primarily, because the world (which had just been through World War I) was forgetting that Christ is truly King over all peoples.

In his encyclical which he wrote to inaugurate the Feast, Pius XI writes:

“the rebellion of individuals and States against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences: . . . . the seeds of discord; . . . bitter enmities and rivalries; . . . insatiable greed…hidden under a pretense of partisanship and patriotism; . . . .the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. We firmly hope, however, that the Feast of the Kingship of Christ, which will be in the future yearly observed, may hasten the return of our society to our loving Saviour.”

While the Pope was writing 80 years ago, his message is still as urgent as ever.

In the Gospel, Jesus stands before a man of authority. The man in authority asks Jesus “Are you the King?” The King whom the Jews say all Kings will fall prostrate, all nations will serve?

And Jesus answered “Do you say this on your own?” Jesus so hopes that Pilate is saying this “on his own,” as a man seeking the Truth, as one in authority seeking to acknowledge and serve the Source of that authority.

May we, who have the incredible gift of knowing the answer to Pilate’s question — that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords — may we ask Jesus on this solemn feast day “Jesus, are you my King? Am I really serving you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and witnessing to Your Kingship in both my public and private life? Or am I just at best paying lip service to You?”

May this Eucharist stir our hearts to serve Him more faithfully, and to work with renewed vigor for the “return of our society to our loving Saviour.”

One Response to “Homily — Christ the King B November 26, 2006”

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