A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – KING OF THE UNIVERSE – CYCLE “C” -11/24/19 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
We all know how good stories end. Our most favorite stories all end on a positive note. Snow White, Cinderella, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones – well, maybe not so much, Game of Thrones. But we like positive, happy, clear, endings to our favorite stories. And maybe that’s what’s so surprising about the way that we conclude St. Luke’s Gospel today, on this Feast of Christ the King. This is not the most positive way to remember Jesus as King of the Universe. Jesus is on the Cross dying for us. He’s not at the Transfiguration robed in glory and light. He’s not riding into Jerusalem being acclaimed “king” by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He’s not taking His seat at God’s right hand, in the Kingdom of Heaven, following His Ascension into Heaven. No, today, Jesus is right there on that Cross, in the middle of His Agony, in the middle of His sacrifice, and at the most difficult moment of His life. It just doesn’t seem very “kingly” or “majestic”, does it? Where’s the Palace? And where’s the Royal carriage? And where’s the royal court, and the Queen, and the crown, a king’s gotta have a crown, doesn’t He? And there He is, with His crown of thorns! And so, perhaps there’s no other place in all the Gospels where Jesus can appear and show forth more His glorious majesty than on the cross itself, in the middle of His ultimate sacrifice. It is here that Jesus encounters the repentant thief. In this most rare place for one to ask for mercy, the repentant thief turns to exactly the right person, the right savior, the Right King, for mercy and forgiveness. And Jesus’ words to the repentant thief that day, from the cross, echo throughout all eternity, to each and every one of us! “Today you will be with me in Paradise!”. The fulfillment of the Kingdom of God is right there, that very day, for the repentant thief. He gets to be one of the first souls to be admitted to Heaven. And the best part, is that the offer is given to all of us, who repent and ask for God’s mercy, even today! That’s the kind of King that we have! Not a king of pomp and circumstance! Not a king of great military power! Not a king of riches, and property, and things. But a REAL King! But a King of Mercy, and Love, and Forgiveness and Peace!
That repentant thief on that cross next to Jesus on that first Good Friday afternoon, knew exactly who he need to turn to, for help. And it wasn’t the king of England, and it wasn’t the king of rock and roll, and it wasn’t the king of pop, he needed Jesus! And so do we! When we go to leave this world, the one thing that all of us are going to most want, is the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. If that’s the case, why are we so slow in accepting it now, today, way before we need it? The very heart of the Gospel message on this Feast of Christ the King, and indeed central message of our entire liturgical year, that culminates today, is that Jesus Christ came down from Heaven to freely lay down His life so that you and I might have the mercy and forgiveness of God for the forgiveness of our sins! That’s what this has all been about! 52 Sundays since last Advent. The message is the same. We can be forgiven. No matter what we’ve done. No matter how far we have wandered. No matter what the sin. Jesus Christ has got us covered. And that is what makes Him a King unlike any other! That’s what makes Him King of the Universe!
So what does this King expect of us? He calls us to be merciful and compassionate to others. This is not a one-way street. We can’t just enjoy God’s mercy and love, and run to it every time we need to be forgiven. No, we too must learn to forgive and to be merciful, and to recognize that there’s something more important than holding grudges. And even then, the Lord gives us the very help that we need to be able to do that, because we can’t do it by ourselves. He give us Himself, the completely innocent One that they crucified, the King that they killed on a tree, to be our source of strength when it comes to mercy and forgiveness. The repentant thief turned to a Crucified King for help and mercy. And He received it. No, make no mistake about this, my brothers and sisters, we are not alone in the mercy and forgiveness thing, we have a God Who died on that Cross so that we can be forgiven! How can we not trust Him? How can we NOT turn to Him and rely on Him, and give Him the chance, to save our souls! That’s the message that St. Luke has been trying to get across to us all year long. Will we accept that message today from the greatest King that has ever lived?
+ May God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!