Homily: Christ the King, Deacon Lowell
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Here is a short history of today’s feast:
Pope Pius the Eleventh instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925 as his response to what he called: “this deluge of evils submerging humankind.”
Pope Pious lamented people who had banished Christ from both their individual lives and from public life resulting in an increasingly atheistic and divided society.
Pope Pious believed there could be no lasting peace between individuals or nations without humankind affirming the authority of Christ: We must look for the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ.”
Considering the current state of affairs in our world and in our own nation, I believe celebrating Christ the King is every bit as significant today as it was 95 years ago.
“He will sit upon his glorious throne.”
What image comes to mind when you hear these words?
Do you see an Egyptian Pharaoh with the nemes headdress, pleated kilt, and broad gold necklace. Perhaps a Roman emperor; white tunic, purple toga, and a gold wreath for a crown. Or a medieval king, with his velvet hat, silk tunic, and fur outer garment.
When I think of Christ the King one of the images that come to mind; Is the Blessed Sacrament on exposition during adoration.
His crown, the rays of the sun radiating from the monstrance, signifying Jesus is the Sun of God, the light of the world.
Christ seated on His glorious throne; the altar, a throne of sacrifice, signifying the sacrifice He made so we may be invited into the Kingdom of Heaven.
“And he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats”.
Do the goats get a bad rap?
People in Jesus’ time would have immediately recognized the significance of the characteristics of sheep and goats. In several ancient mythologies, some gods are depicted with goat heads or goats’ legs and hooves.
“Goats like sheep are herd animals. However, they are much more independent and need more work to herd. Goats are also curious and love to climb, which makes it hard to keep them penned in or behind fences. Also, while you can push a sheep around, you cannot push a goat.”
The goats are an appropriate image of our individualistic culture.
“Sheep’s main characteristic is that they flock: they group together, stay together and follow a leader well. This instinct makes sheep easy to herd and very social in nature. Sheep are so programmed to follow and stay together, in fact, that they can’t do anything else. This usually works in their favor; a predator will not attack a flock, preferring to pick off stragglers.”
Think of the flock of sheep as analogous to our standing in solidarity as a faith community with the most vulnerable in our society: We are called to surround them; to protect the unborn, the immigrant, the elderly, the refugee, and the poor.
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father.”
It is obvious from this reading that Jesus is calling us to serve the vulnerable in society as our response to the grace God has bestowed on us. But then comes the question, what is more important; serving the poor or keeping the commandments and observing proper religious practice?
In his column in last weeks Catholic messenger Ronald Rolheiser answers that question:
“For Jesus, we are true disciples when we have compassionate hearts out of which keep the commandments, humbly worship our God, but make it a religious priority to reach out to the most vulnerable groups in our society. Jesus makes a strong point of this: How we treat the most vulnerable is how we treat God.”
The Kingdom of God is built through conversion of one mind and one heart at a time, one kindness extended to our sisters and brothers at a time. I would like to close with this prayer from praymorenovenas.com:
“Christ, our Savior and our King, renew in me allegiance to Your Kingship. I pray for the grace to place You above the powers of this world in all things. I pray for the grace to obey You before any civic authority. I pray for the grace to fervently bring about Your Kingdom in my family and community. I pray that You will reign in my mind. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Patricia Kastan; The Final Judgement Gets The Goats; wwwthecompassnews.org>2017/11>the final judgement
Ronald Rolheiser; Anchoring Love, Prayer, and Service; The Catholic Messenger Volume 138 Number 45 11/12/2020
Dianne Bergant with Richard Fragomeni: Preaching the New Lectionary, Year A: LTP Collegeville, MN. ISBN 978-0-8146-2: Pg 402-408