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Nov 19, 2016 Written by  Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo

Solemnity of Christ the king the last Sunday of the year Be the first to comment!

Christking

Theme: Jesus is a king of my heart

Each year as we come to the end of our Liturgical Year, the Church invites us to celebrate this great feast of Christ the King at the end of our yearly cycle of feasts and festivals that have manifested different events in the life of Jesus, Mary, and the other Saints. We are reminded that Jesus Christ is Lord and King. This Feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to deter growing secularism and atheism of that generation. The Feast declares that Christ is king and thus sovereign over all persons, families, nations and the whole universe.

First reading: 2Samuel 5:1-3

Power tends to corrupt but absolute power corrupts absolutely. These words are frequently quoted when one wants to clarify authority. It is common knowledge that unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it. Perhaps it was thoughts like this that made the idea of a monarchy in Israel such a controversial issue. In the Holy Bible we can distinguish two major trends. Those with antimonarchic tendencies regarded the very notion of a king in Israel as a rejection of God’s theocratic rule over the people cf: 1Samuel 7:3-8:22; 10:17-27. Ideally, Israel’s kings were to be God’s regents or earthly representatives; however, as a glance at the annals of the kings will reveal, the majority fell far short of their high calling. In the end, it was those who desired a king who prevailed. Among those who were pro-monarchy, there was no notion of God’s disapproval cf: 1Samuel 9:1-10:16. In fact, Samuel is portrayed as carrying out God’s command first to anoint and then to depose Saul and then to seek out and anoint David as his royal successor. Prior to the events recorded in today’s first reading, Saul had died and David acceded to his throne in Judah, which was then a vassal state subject to the Philistines.

While his exploits against the Philistines and other enemies proved his military powers and leadership abilities, it was David’s humble beginnings as the shepherd of his father’s flocks that best prepared him for the monarchy. As a shepherd, he had been entrusted with the lives of the animals that were essential to the livelihood of his family. As their caretaker, he would have known each sheep’s strengths, weaknesses and fears. He would have known how to lead them, to protect them, to protect them and to provide for all their needs. He would have placed their welfare above his own, and to keep them safe, he would have been willing to put his life in jeopardy. Centuries after David was anointed king and shepherd of his people, his descendant Jesus would also be anointed, not as king but in preparation for his death. Thus consecrated, Jesus would go forth to die so as to shepherd God’s people rightly and bring all sinners home to God. At our baptismal anointing, we were initiated into these saving mysteries; we are to live and serve and die accordingly.

Second reading: Colossians 1:12-20

As we have been considering David’s anointing, Jesus’ anointing and our own baptismal anointing; it seems appropriate that our thoughts carry us into this great Christological hymn, which is regarded as part of an ancient baptismal liturgy. In that context, this hymn represents the profession of faith on the part of the baptismal candidates. St. Paul must have quoted this hymn at the outset of this letter to remind us of the primacy of the profession of faith. Even when faith is under threat, we have the responsibility to profess it. From what can be deduced from the letter, it is clear that proponents of a certain religious systems of thought were attempting to seduce Christians with claims of secret knowledge. That secret included the notion that Christ was a creature, and as such, he was lower in the heavenly hierarchy than the angels. This ancient form of paganism also denied Jesus’ equality with God and his divinity as Son of God.

To counter and to correct these erroneous and potentially harmful ideas, St. Paul pulled out all the Christological stops and dramatically represented the primacy of Jesus and his unique role in creation. As God’s eikon ‘image’, Christ allowed us to see and to hear, to touch and to be touched by the invisible God. The term eikon recalled the concept of the logos/ordering principle whereby God created all that is. Similarly, the term was reminiscent of hokmah/wisdom, which was an emanation from God and the handmaid of the divine at creation.

As a partner in creation and as its Lord and King, Christ is not a creature but shares power with God over all created beings including the various ranks of angels, four of which are named in Colossians 1:16. False teachers in Colossae and elsewhere insisted that these spiritual beings somehow rivaled Christ’s role and had to be appeased by the performance of specific ascetical practices. St. Paul was quick to place the angelic beings beneath God and Christ, and also took the occasion to repeatedly affirm Christ’s sufficiency and superiority over all. Only Christ is the center of the created universe ‘in him all things hold together’, the cause ‘all things were created through him’ and he is the goal toward which all of creation should proceed is worthy of the adoration of all of humankind. In his capacity as God’s eikon on earth, Jesus has reconciled all creatures with God through the salvific sacrifice of his death. Although Jesus Christ is not mentioned by name even one time in this hymn, this last reference to his cross affirms that he indeed and he alone is the king of creation and the king of all hearts whose praises we are invited to sing.

Gospel: Luke 23:35-43

Surely there are other texts that could have been chosen to celebrate the kingship and the reign of Jesus. He was truly regal when he calmed the sea and commanded the winds. His power was obvious when he fed the multitudes with bread and fish. His authority over the demons that were thought to cause every kind of human malady was incomparable. When he debated with the religious authorities, his superior wisdom was nothing short of kingly. And yet, today, we celebrate him as king by remembering what appears to be the lowest point of his life. The ways and wisdom of God are inscrutable. It was in being brought low that Jesus’ greatness was fully revealed. In the moment when he appeared to be most powerless, he succeeded in redeeming all of humankind from sin and death.

With obvious Lucan irony, in this Gospel it is those who rejected Jesus in disbelief who proclaim Jesus’ accomplishment and his unique identity. The sneering rulers call him ‘Chosen One’ and ‘the Christ of God’ while the soldiers identify Jesus as ‘King of the Jews’. In his telling of this moment, when ignominy was transformed by grace and glory, Luke has shared his unique account of the conversation of the crucified. In the dialogue, one of the criminals establishes Jesus’ innocence by affirming openly that ‘this man has done nothing wrong’. His encounter with Jesus emphasizes the “evangelistic effect” of Jesus’ death. Jesus’ innocence in dying converted the criminal who hung beside him; his death was the good news that sinners longed to hear.

The criminal, having turned to Jesus and acknowledged his kingship and his reign, asks to share in that reign. Was his request motivated by sheer desperation at his circumstances, or did he hold within him a tiny seed of faith that Jesus could somehow pardon him and grant him a place in his kingdom? We cannot know his heart, only the words that Luke has shared; words of faith born of the realization that as long as we draw breath, repentance and forgiveness are possible. Jesus’ response to the penitent introduced a note of hope and peace into what was otherwise a very sad scenario. ‘You will be with me this day in paradise’. Jesus’ death is a passage to life and glory, and so will it be for those who are redeemed and saved by his dying, who are willing to experience a similar passage. The word ‘paradise’ is derived from a Persian word for a garden. For the Jews, it was the realm reserved for the righteous dead. In the Christian arena, paradise refers to the bliss of the heavenly kingdom, which is inaugurated with the coming of the Messiah. Jesus’ promise to the repentant criminal affirmed his identity as Messiah as well as the bringer of a new era where sin and death have been conquered through the salvific sacrifice of the cross. In life, in death, and in life again, Jesus remains King of All Hearts.

Mainly to rejoinder, at the time of her death on a Paris roadway in August 1997, Diana Spencer had already been relieved of her title, Her Royal Highness. Still regarded as a member of the royal family because she was the mother of two future heirs to the throne, she was nevertheless no longer part of the monarchy. She no longer had a palace; she did not wear a crown, nor did she perform any official duties for the queen. Still, Diana Spencer was held in high regard by the British people and by many throughout the world who admired her dedication to the sick and her extensive work in trying to ban landmines. This admiration led those who mourned her passing to give her the title ‘Queen of Hearts’. Even without a title or a crown, she continued to reign within the hearts of those who loved her. Hers was not an imposed authority, but one that was bestowed on her by admiring subjects.

In a sense, the feast of Jesus Christ as King is celebrated within a similar ambience. Jesus’ reign over his disciples is not an imposed dominion but a warm welcome extended to one who is loved and admired as king of all hearts. Jesus was a king like no other, in that he did not have a scepter but he did have a towel with which he washed his disciples’ feet. Jesus had no standing army, but he did have followers. He did not sit on a throne but on the back of a donkey. He wore no crown of gold, but one of thorns. He did not use his authority to take life but to give it. He did not set boundaries or entertain only the nobility; he welcomed sinners, tax collectors, foreigners and thieves. He did not exploit people but spoke sympathetically of widows, prodigals, Samaritans and the poor. He did not wield the sword of punishment but extended mercy and forgiveness: ‘today you will be with me in paradise’. He did not coerce, he invited, and rather than tax his subjects to pay the debts of his monarchy, he laid down his own life so that the “debt” of human sin would be forgiven. He did not come to conquer but to save. When the leadership and the kingship of Jesus are compared to other leaders today and throughout history, it is clear that he has no equal.

As he is presented in the Scriptures, Jesus traces his lineage to that of David, whose importance is underscored in today’s first reading. Anointed by Samuel and then by all the tribes of Judah and Israel, David was the Messiah, the anointed one of God who was to shepherd the people wisely. Based on the promise made to David through the prophet Nathan cf: 2Samuel 7:14 all future generations looked for a descendant of David to lead them. They longed for him to establish his dominion such that they would enjoy the peace, power and prosperity they had known during the reign of David. Jesus did come, and he was of David’s line; however, he exercised his kingship in service and in suffering. For that reason, on this feast of his kingship, the Gospel of Luke takes us to a Jesus hanging on the Cross. Ironically, the crime for which he was being executed was the very reason for which he had come among us; to be king, king of the Jews and king of every heart. Those who would welcome his reign would know healing, peace and forgiveness and in the end, a place with him in the eternity of paradise. We who welcome him as king of our hearts welcome one whose love is stronger than death and whose mercies lift us above our sins to the realm of graced forgiveness and glory. Sealed with his love at our baptism, anointed with the oil that consecrates all we are and all we have to his service, we are to live so true to him that others will want to accept his rule and welcome his reign in their hearts.

Application

On this Feast let us be disciples who both allow Christ to have dominion over our lives and who strive to follow him completely. Let us pray on this feast of Christ the King that our lives will be transformed, and we will see this great transforming person who is God the Word made flesh. As we conclude the year of mercy, let us take it upon ourselves to grow in holiness and prove that even today, faith is of great value.

 

525 Last modified on Saturday, 19 November 2016 13:11

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Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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