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Friday, 23 November 2018

Christ the King Year B 2018

Christ the King, Year B (26.11.00)

(Dan. 7:13-14 / Apoc. 1:5-8 / John 18:33-37)


Today, dear People of God, we are gathered to celebrate Jesus Christ our King, Son of God, Lord of Creation, and Our Saviour.   And today, Mother Church reminds us how Jesus replied to the questions of Pilate -- then Roman Governor in Judea -- regarding His Kingship:

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.  Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me."


Jesus is King, and as King He bears witness to the truth; indeed, bearing witness to the truth is the distinctive sign and ultimate purpose of His Kingship.

Now, that gives us something to ponder; because we are, or want to be, disciples of Jesus, and He has told us: 

Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

As Christians and above all as Catholics, we are very much aware of truth because we believe that there is a definitive truth about Jesus – sent by His Father for mankind’s salvation – a truth, about His Person and His Good News of salvation, to be learned and passed on to future generations; just as it has been handed down to us, by Mother Church, from past generations and ultimately, indeed, from Jesus and His Apostles themselves. 

Jesus is the Truth and He became incarnate, became a man, in order to bear witness to that Truth which He was and which He proclaimed.  That being the case, we can -- with gratitude and admiration -- recognize that Jesus’ Church’s cannot change Gospel Truth, the Good News, to suit changing worldly preferences or satisfy popular demands.  You will remember that, when Jesus established Peter as the rock on which He would build His Church, He said that:

            The gates of Hades will not overcome her.

What did He mean by that?  How could the gates of Hades, Satan’s dominion, overcome her?  Listen!  Jesus once told us about Satan, the devil, when speaking to some Jews:

You belong to your father, the devil. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a LIAR and the father of lies.  (John 8:44)

So you see that “the gates of Hades”, the kingdom of the devil, the father of lies, could only attempt to overcome Jesus’ Church -- our Mother -- by leading her away from Jesus the Truth into falsehood.  That can never be!  Mother Church was established by Jesus to proclaim and bear witness to His truth and to nourish with His food her children, those called by the Father to become disciples of Jesus, and those whom Jesus Himself characterized by the following words:

Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me. (John 18:37)

Jesus is the Truth; Mother Church proclaims and protects the truth about Jesus our Lord and Saviour; we, children of Mother Church, who listen to Jesus’s teaching and eat His Food and drink His Blood, are on the side of truth.

Pilate said to Jesus. "What is truth?"

In our modern society there are many who deny that there is such a thing as objective truth, all is relative to current political attitudes and our personal needs and desires.

There are many, many more who, like Pilate, don’t know what truth is and don’t bother themselves about the question, trying to fill their lives with pleasure and activity of all sorts; and they act in full accord with the devil’s constant endeavour that the question of truth should never be allowed to impinge itself on our human, God-given, conscience, lest thereby God Himself gain entrance into our lives.

Let us now think of Jesus as revered and foreseen in a vision by the prophet Daniel as you heard in our first reading:

He – One like a Son of Man -- approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence and was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (7:13-14)

That same Jesus, we learnt from the second reading, is also:

The Alpha and the Omega, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.

Jesus -- the coming Lord of Glory -- is Truth, and His Kingdom, in all its majesty, power, and authority, is founded on truth; and we too, His disciples, have all been drawn to Him by the Father of all Good that we might learn of and be formed by the truth of Jesus and -- in our turn and by His Spirit -- ourselves become witnesses to the ultimate truthfulness  of God, to the beauty of His creation and the loving wisdom of our salvation.

Truth is our life as Christians and Catholics.  How do we live it?  Is it just a matter of trying not to tell lies?  That, of course, is absolutely essential.  The devil is the father of lies, we cannot serve him.  But we can only come to share in the Kingdom of God with Jesus our King if truth rules in each and every aspect of our lives as Catholics. 

When God chose some slaves to become His own Chosen People to fulfil His purposes on earth, He recued them from the objective evil of slavery and oppression and gave them a Law of objective truth to form them aright for His purposes through His servant Moses.   That Law demanded that the Chosen People learn -- first and foremost -- to practice OBEDIENCE, religious fear and awe, vis-a-vis their ‘Choosing God’, and also to gradually learn, as His Chosen People, to trust Him Who was leading them through desert wastes towards the Promised Land.

On being given that land -- their own, Promised Land -- the Chosen People (Luke 1:74-75):

That initial and salutary obedience, that modicum of growing trust – having been learnt though painfully at times -- enabled them to:

Serve the Lord their God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all their days.

Notice the change: they are now to SERVE; no longer ‘obey’ first and foremost, but serve wholeheartedly, which is, indeed, a far, far, better form of obedience:

in holiness and righteousness before Him all their days.

Moreover, the written Law was no longer their only approach to God; in their own Promised Land they were given Judges and Prophets to protect them from their enemies and to inspire them in their understanding of and response to the God Who was calling them to become ever more truly His Chosen People for His purposes and their well-being.

So, we are far from the original Chosen-People-making, Obedience-above-all, disciplinary relationship with the One Who was calling them; now they were expected, being helped and inspired, to Serve Him with ever deeper understanding and appreciation, with an ever more grateful and confident – yes, self-sacrificing when necessary -- trust.

Fleeing slaves having become God’s Chosen People were still being called by their God to become what???   Children of God!!!  Yes, adopted children of the omnipotent, all-holy, all-knowing and eternal God, through the gift of His beloved and only-begotten Son to His Chosen People’s supreme flower, the Virgin Mary of Nazareth, to become Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, for the salvation of all mankind:

For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me."

All peoples, nations and men of every language (will) worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Now, if we are to be authentic disciples of Jesus, we have to endeavour to understand the ramifications of truth.  For example, can anyone who is always worrying about self be recognized as an authentic disciple of Jesus?  To love Jesus means also, surely, to trust Him.  Again, if, when trouble comes along, a disciple repeatedly turns to human beings for help and consolation without recourse to Jesus in prayer, can such a disciple be considered an authentic disciple?  We have to be true disciples.  Again, if we never speak up for Jesus, His teaching, and His Church, no matter what people say against Him, can we be considered authentic and true disciples?  Can parents who leave the teaching of their children exclusively to the school, without ever themselves speaking of Jesus with their children, be regarded as authentic Catholic, Christian, parents?

We have to serve Jesus sincerely, seeking Him first and foremost, we cannot allow worldly riches and prosperity, human popularity or approval, personal pride or idle indifference to rule and determine our lives.  Trying to be authentic, treasuring and seeking the promise of heaven above all, we should allow the Holy Spirit to authoritatively guide our lives and resist the corrosive influence of the spirit of the world around us.

People of God, Jesus is King and He is calling us to share with Him in the joys of His Kingdom and that ultimate aspect of Jesus’ truth for us, DELIGHT IN HIM, needs expression in our lives.  We are not just to speak the truth, to witness to the truth, we must love the truth of Jesus, and that delight in God must begin to shine in our lives here on earth if we are to eat with Him at His Father’s banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven as children of light.  Each and every one of us must think for ourselves: is Jesus indeed my King, first and foremost in my life?  Does His will rule me?  Do His love, His goodness, His beauty and truth, DELIGHT ME?     

You have been called by the Father, because you have come to Jesus in the Church.  However, the way we all have to travel is long and it can be steep and hard in places, and we, in our frailty and weakness, can so easily begin to slumber along the way; forgetting our original calling, we can begin to find our delight in present, worldly, experiences and pleasures.  Future heavenly promises can then come to seem unreal and our faith unrewarding.  That is the devil’s work.  He is THE liar.  The pleasures you are turning to are only for a time and they become inevitably less and less delightful as the years go by, and you can be robbed of them by so many unforeseen events and circumstances.  Heavenly promises, on the contrary are eternal, they seem small, like the mustard seed, to begin with, but grow ever more wonderful over the years and ultimately not even death itself will be able to rob you of them.

Look to yourselves, therefore, dear People of God: take legitimate pride in your calling, but above all, in your King.  You are called to become like Him Who is the Truth: so, persevere in truth, be His true disciples and the truth will make you free and you will be enabled to dine and to reign with Him in His Father’s heavenly Kingdom.