CHRIST THE KING – November 25, 2012 – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
CHRIST THE KING
34TH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
“After John [the Baptist] had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God [and He said]: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand…’” (Mark 1:14-15). At the beginning of His public life, Jesus preached the presence of the Kingdom of God. We read in the gospels that Our Lord has used this expression over fifty times. It behooves us to inspect this kingdom of God.
The expressions “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous, for among the people of Jesus’ time “Heaven” was one of the names proper to God.
When we look back in time to the covenant on Sinai, the people of Israel become God’s chosen people. They were unique among the surrounding nations in having only God as their king. It was a true theocracy. God governed his people through his representatives—prophets, judges, chiefs of His choosing. Isaiah expresses this relationship of the people to God. Isaiah says: Yahweh is our Judge, /Yahweh is our Chief, /Yahweh is our King. (Isaiah 32:22)
This theocratic view remains when David is anointed king, for David addresses the people saying this. “The God of Israel has chosen me from all the house of my father to be king of Israel…and he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne of the royalty of Yahweh” (I Chronicles 28:5). The throne of David and of Solomon is in reality the royal throne of God. This notion of Godliness extends to the preaching of Jesus.
Jesus began His preaching by announcing the kingdom of God. And Jesus used this theme throughout His teaching. Among the early expressions, Jesus proclaims the Beatitudes. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” And the tenth beatitude has the same expression. “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1-3, 10).
The children belong to the kingdom. They model the manner in which we are to accept the Lord’s will on our behalf.
Jesus called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Luke 18:16-17).
Literary authors have borrowed this expression to insist on the individual’s bringing God’s will into his or her life. Count Leo Tolstoy uses the expression to entitle his book of (1893) essays: The Kingdom of God Is Within You. Francis Thompson entitles a poem, “The Kingdom of God,” and he begins the poem with a series of paradoxes that suggest our Lord making visible in His parables the leadership of God which is not visible. Thompson’s poem begins in this way.
O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!
Just as Jesus initiated His campaign among us by speaking of the kingdom of God, and continuing this theme during His three public years, so also Jesus concluded with this same thematic expression. At the Last Supper Jesus begins by telling the Apostles that after this shall be His last sharing a cup with them: “From this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes”(Luke 22:18).
On trial before the governor of Judea, “Pilate returned into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to [Jesus], “Are you the King of the Jews?” Explicitly, Jesus tells Pilate that “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom in not here” (John 18:33-36).
At first, Pilate tells the crowd with the Pharisees exciting them to demand that Jesus be crucified. Then Pilate passes condemnation and the guards, after flagellating Christ, mock Him with the purple robe and the thorny crown as if He were King. “And kneeling before Him, they mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (Matthew 27:27-29).
“After they had crucified Him… they placed over his head the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37). Jesus has, even in dying, excited us to bring God into the center of our lives. The cross exhorts us, even as Christ breathes His last.
Christians embrace the Kingdom of God, not only historically, but also in their daily lives. At Mass, in our regular time of prayer, we petition God that “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,” both within us individually and in the culture around us. May the Lord reign among us.
On this past Friday, November 23, the Church recalled the festival of Blessed Miguel Pro. He worked as a priest in Mexico for less than two years. He celebrated the Eucharist clandestinely and ministered the other sacraments to small groups of Catholics. At age 36, he was arrested and rather quickly placed before a firing squad. It was 1927, in Mexico City. When the troops leveled their rifles, Miguel Pro shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey,” and the shots martyred him. Christ’s kingship lives within us; we pray that Christ’s kingship may grow among us. Amen!