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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Christ the King (C)
(2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43)

Today we are invited to rejoice in Christ our King Who is the Son of God made flesh.  We should be aware that throughout the New Testament the many mentions of "the God", for example, “the God of our fathers", "the God of the living", "may the God of hope", and other such expressions, all refer to God the Father, He is "God" because the Father is the source of all. 
However, because He is Father, always and eternally, therefore He always and eternally expresses His Fatherhood in His Son, His co-eternal Son, for without His Son He would not be Himself, that is, He would not be the Father.  The Father withholds nothing from His Son, as Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper:
All things that the Father has are Mine (John 16:15)
(Father,) all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine. (John 17:10)
And therefore we heard in the second reading that:
            He (the beloved Son) is the image of the invisible God.
The Nicene Creed proclaims in our Mass the eternal relationship between Father and Son in the one Godhead: He is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, Begotten not made, of One Being with the Father.
Therefore, in the one God, the Son is the essential, total and complete, expression of the Father's very being. 
Creation, on the other hand, is not essential to God; it is a choice He makes and,  though it is an abiding choice of His will, it is only a partial expression in space and time of His infinite wisdom, goodness, and power.  Nevertheless, as true Father He loves creation as He made it (Gen 1:31):
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
Since the Son is the total, co-eternal, expression of the nature of God the Father while creation is but a partial, temporal, expression of His goodness and truth, we can begin to appreciate there being a special relationship between the Son and creation, as we heard in the second reading:
He -- the image of the invisible God -- is the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created, in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers -- all were created through Him and for Him.
Moreover, we can now understand why it should be the Son Who was sent by the Father for our salvation; the Son Who, having taken truly human flesh of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, became the One of Whom the letter to the Colossians says that:
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Col. 1:17)
Indeed, though outwardly seen as a mysteriously humble figure known as Jesus, the son of Mary of Nazareth, the same letter to the Colossians goes on to tell us that:
            In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9)
Let us then try to appreciate something of the glory of the Father, manifested to us in the beauty, the truth, and the goodness of His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the bond of love between Father and Son in the one Godhead, Who guided, strengthened, and sustained, the incarnate Son, Who, -- having been made one with us in all our powers and potentialities, even to the extent of sharing in our native human weakness though without sin -- would be led to the full maturity of His human nature by the Spirit.  This was publicly manifested, as you will recall, at the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan:
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  (Matt 3:16-4:1)
The beloved, only-begotten, Son of God, the Lord and Saviour of all mankind, had to be brought to perfection in His fleshly existence for our sake; and -- because of our sins -- that perfection could only come through suffering as the letter to the Hebrews tells us:
It was fitting for Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Heb 2:10)
And now, we begin to see the true nature of Christ's glory in its earthly manifestation, we begin to glimpse His goodness and His humility:
 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through  fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.(Heb 2:14-15)
This He was able to do because:
Though He was in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-8)
And having (thus) been perfected, He became the author of salvation to all who obey Him. (Heb 5:9)
Let us now raise up our minds from things on earth to have a look in faith at the heavenly beauty of Him Whom the prophet Malachi, in the name of God, described as the "sun of righteousness":
For you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (Mal. 4:2)
For this Son-of-God-made-man was revealed in all His beauty by rising from the dead as the prophet Isaiah also had foretold (Isaiah 33:17):
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty, they will see the land that is far off.
Indeed, only the beauty of the risen Christ enables us to raise our eyes in hope to the promised land of our heavenly home with Christ.  As the prophet Zecharia had foretold:
On that day the Lord their God will save them, His own people, like a flock.  What wealth is theirs, what beauty!  (9:16-17).
What beauty must be His since He offers such comeliness and beauty to His faithful flock!  What beauty is His Who, rising like the sun, is able to bestow such blessings on those who formerly:
sat in darkness and in the shadow of death? (Ps 107:10)
To understand a final aspect of the glory of Christ the King let us now just consider Him in heaven.  There, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and there we can recognize His eternal goodness, truth, and faithfulness; for, we are told that, in heaven, He is eternally solicitous for our well-being:
It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8:34)
He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)
What way to God will those prayers of Jesus open up for us?  What guiding power will enable us to walk faithfully and perseveringly along that path?  Let us carefully attend to Jesus Himself on the Cross and learn His ways.
The people stood looking on (and) even the rulers with them sneered saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself”.(Luke 23:35)
But Jesus did not save Himself.
One of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39)
He was the Christ, He knew He was the Christ, but still He did not save Himself.  Why?  Listen yet more closely:
Then (the other criminal hanged with Him) said to Jesus, “Lord”, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 42-43)
Jesus, so calmly and completely certain what was to happen to Himself, did not promise that He would take the former thief with Himself into Paradise, “you will be with Me” He said; in other words, ‘He Who will receive Me into Paradise will draw you there with Me’.  Notice most carefully Jesus’ total commitment to and trust in His Father and in the Spirit Who was working in Him for the Father’s glory, for that is the royal way of Jesus from this world to the next as children of God.
All the conceits of our human sinfulness have gradually to be set aside until we are totally convinced that we can neither grab the fruit of tree of Paradise, nor can we merit heaven for ourselves.  Such fruit is given only to those who -- through faith in Jesus, and in the fear of the Lord -- become increasingly aware of His Gift of the Spirit at work in their lives and who humble themselves with heartfelt gratitude beneath such gentle yet sovereign goodness: those who pray for, and are willing to wait for, His lead in all things; those who sincerely seek to distinguish aright between His guiding and their own passions and fears, between His enlightening and their own imagining, wishing, and wanting; and finally, those who will then commit themselves totally in an endeavour to follow His lead as closely as their trust in Him and death to themselves will allow.
And here we should just glance back at our first reading:
All the tribes of Israel came to David saying: “We are your bone and your flesh.  In times past you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the Lord said to you, ’You shall shepherd My People Israel’”.
Yes, dear People of God, Jesus Christ is Our Lord, He has been with us in and through all the vicissitudes of our lives; whenever we have turned to Him He has been waiting and available; indeed, walking our way for us He has gone before to turn the dark shades of our death into the glowing portal of the heavenly home  which is even now being prepared for us. 
Lord Jesus, trusty Friend and Brother, dear Lord and Saviour, King of all creation and only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, may our celebration today further the rule of Your Spirit in our hearts and minds, promote Your Lordship over our society and our world, and give eternal praise and glory to Him Who is and will be ‘All in All’.