The 34th and Final Sunday of Ordinary Time, and of the Year of Grace 2016
2 Sam 5-1-3
An internet meme that was circulating several weeks back contained a picture of Jesus Christ the King and it said “no matter who is elected President, Jesus Christ is still the King.” Never have we needed to hear that message more than we’ve needed it at this present. That short statement also rightly encapsulates everything that is important about today’s feast. Jesus Christ is King of the Universe.
Our first reading discusses the anointing of David as King, and we know that Jesus comes from the Royal House of David, this reality is one reason why we can call him King. He is the Son of David, and he is the Messiah and Lord. The ancient Hebrew Prophets rightly expected that the Messiah would come from the line of David, and that the Messiah would be born in the City of David. Bethlehem, by the way, means “House of Bread” in Hebrew, and from the House of Bread comes the Bread of Life. Just as David was anointed king, once by Samuel and once in our reading today, the Wise Men, the Magi, brought the young Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which were gifts suited to a royal personage, as well as being emblematic of his offices of Priest, Prophet, and King… and so Jesus is King, as we see David his ancestor being anointed King.
Our second reading is, I believe, one of the most important readings in all of Sacred Scripture, certainly in the New Testament, for describing to us just who Jesus Christ is. We already know that he is King, but from the words of the Apostle Paul, we learn that he is “the firstborn of all creation, the image of the invisible God.” From this passage we can understand that all power is given to Jesus in Heaven and on Earth. “He is the head of the body, the Church,” and through him all things were made. So important is this passage to the basic theology of Christianity that everyone in the world who prays the Liturgy of the Hours recites this passage at least once a week, usually on Wednesday evening. All priests, deacons, religious, and lay people pray this reminder of Jesus’s primacy in creation, of his divine place as Son of God.
Today’s Gospel the passage is that of Jesus Christ freely giving his life for the sake of our Redemption. But even on the Cross, we are given evidence of his divine power, of his rulership over all people and all creation. Jesus promises the good thief that he would remember him when he comes into his kingdom, that that very day the thief would be with him in Paradise. Jesus does this after the good thief says to the other thief, who had mocked Jesus by saying to him “aren’t you the Messiah…then save yourself, and us,” that “we have received the just reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” In his statement, Jesus displays his power to forgive sins, allowing this man to enter Paradise, or as the great Navarre Commentary tells us, Jesus offers the “good thief” immediate salvation, which only God can do.
In the Sundays and many of the week days leading up to this feast day, if you’ve been following the readings you know that many of the passages are eschatological or apocalyptic in nature. The Church does this to remind us that all things come to an end and we are coming to the end of this year of Grace at the end of this week. We will end Ordinary Time as well as begin Advent being reminded that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. This great truth is the reason that we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the ecclesiastical year. It is a reminder to us that while we do not know the day or the hour of Our Lord’s return, the day will come when time will be no more. But even when that day does come, the Lordship of Christ will continue to reign supreme, because he is truly “the firstborn of all creation and in every way the primacy is his.”
As we celebrate Christ’s kingship over the universe, his divinity and his Lordship over all that is seen and unseen, it is fitting that we should ask ourselves a most important question. If we know him to be the King of the Universe, the Second Person of the Trinity, and our divine Lord, then have we truly made him the King and the Lord over our own lives? Do we treat him each and every day as though he is our King and Lord? Do we serve him as King and worship him as Lord in the way that he deserves to be served and worshipped? Is he the center of our Lives as he ought to be if he is truly our King?
Regardless of who is in Washington or who rules in the capitals of the world, there is only one true King. Appropriately, we celebrate Christ the King at the end of Ordinary Time, we remember what is also said when the Easter Candle is lit at the Easter Vigil. “Jesus Christ yesterday, today, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, all time belongs to him, and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age forever.” Amen.