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Friday, 18 November 2016

Christ the King 2016

            Christ the King
(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 origin and source of all. 
However, because He is eternally, and eternally the Father, 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 could not be Father.  The Father withholds nothing from His Son, as Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper:
Everything that the Father has is Mine. (John 16:15)
(Father,) everything of Mine is Yours, and everything of Yours is Mine. (John 17:10)           
And therefore we heard in the second reading that:
            He (the beloved Son) is the image of the invisible God.
Indeed, as the Nicene Creed in our Mass proclaims the eternal relationship between Father and Son in the one Godhead: He (the Son) 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 total, essential, expression of the Father's very being as God.  Creation, however, is not essential to God, it is a choice He makes and, being the result of such a decision, is an abiding choice of His will and a partial expression in space and time of His Fatherly goodness.  As true Father He loves His creation as He made it (Genesis 1:31):
God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good.
Because the Son is the total, co-eternal, expression of the nature of God the Father whereas creation is a partial, temporal, expression of God's fatherly goodness and care, therefore 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 of all creation.
All things created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all have been created through Him and for Him.
Now we can understand why it should be the Son Who was sent by the Father for our salvation; and how, by taking truly human flesh of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became the Man Who (Colossians 1:17):
Is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 
Indeed, though appearing outwardly as the mysteriously humble figure of Jesus, son of Mary, from Nazareth, the same letter to the Colossians goes on to tell us (2:9):
            In Him dwells the whole fullness of the Deity bodily.
Let us, therefore, try to glimpse something more of the glory of the Father, manifested to us in the beauty, the truth, and the goodness of His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, 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 began to climax, as you will recall, at the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan:
After Jesus was baptized, He came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for Him) and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him.  And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 3:16-4:1)
The beloved, only-begotten Son of God, the Lord and Saviour of all mankind, had to be made absolutely perfect in the flesh for our sake; and -- because of our sins -- such perfection could only come through suffering:
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. (Hebrews 2:10)
And now, as we begin to see the true nature of Christ's glory in its earthly manifestation, we catch a glimpse His goodness and His humility:
Since the children share in blood and flesh, He likewise shared in them, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.   (Hebrews 2:14-15)
This He was able to do because:
Though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and being found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.    And when He was (thus) made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.  (Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 5:9)
Human eyes cannot clearly see nor can the human mind fully comprehend the glory of Christ, but, having learned of His majesty and glimpsed something of His goodness and humility, let us now raise up our minds by faith to look at the beauty of Him Whom the prophet Malachi (3:20), in the name of God, described as the "sun of justice":
For you who fear My name, the Sun of Justice will arise with healing in its wings.
For this Son of God, made flesh and perfected as man through suffering the ultimate humiliation of death on the Cross, this Son was revealed in all His beauty by rising from the dead as the prophet Isaiah had foretold :
Your eyes will see the King in His beauty, they will behold a land that stretches far away.  (Isaiah 33:17; NRSV)
This is indeed the case, because it is only the beauty of the risen Christ that enables us to raise our eyes in hope to the promised land of our heavenly home with Christ.
The prophet Zechariah (9:16-17) had foretold:
The LORD their God will save them like a flock on that day; how good, how lovely! 
If He, the risen Lord, gives such comeliness His faithful flock, what then must be the Personal beauty of Him Who, rising like the sun, brings such beauty to those who once:
Sat in darkness and in the shadow of death? (Psalm 107:10)
For St. Paul is in full agreement with the ancient psalmist, when he says of Jesus, as you heard in the second reading:
He delivered us from the power of darkness.
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 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. (Romans 8:34)
He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
How are we, for our part, to approach God; to draw near to Him in accordance with the prayers of Jesus Who lives before the Father and intercedes eternally on our behalf?  Let us carefully attend to Jesus on the Cross and learn His ways.
The people stood looking on (and) even the rulers sneered with them saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself”.
But Jesus did not save Himself.
One of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us.”
He was the Christ, indeed He knew He was the Christ, but still He did not save Himself.  Why?  Listen yet more closely:
The other criminal, however, (after) rebuking him said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Jesus, so calmly and completely certain what was to happen to Himself, did not promise that He Himself would take the former thief 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 Jesus’ absolute commitment to and total trust in His Father and the Spirit Who was working in Him for the Father’s glory, for that is Jesus’ royal way for us too that will ultimately lead us from this world to the Kingdom of His Father 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 it for ourselves.  Such fruit is given only to those who, through faith in Jesus, and in the fear of the Lord, become aware of and responsive to the Spirit of God at work in their lives: 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, their own imagining, wishing, and wanting; and finally, those who will then seek to commit themselves totally in an endeavour to follow His lead as closely as their trust in Him and death to themselves will allow.
Yes, dear People of God, Jesus Christ Our Lord is, indeed, King of all creation and most particularly our King in Heavenly Glory; may our celebration today promote and further His rule on earth, in our lives, our society, and in our world.