Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christ The King (Cycle C)

    To Catholics the image of Jesus nailed to the cross is very familiar. In a sense we are saturated with this image, every rosary ends with a crucifix, every church is required to have one in their sanctuary, and if you come from a Hispanic culture like mine, every man who calls himself a good Catholic wears one of this around their necks.
    This image is so familiar that we have been desensitized to the horror it presents: a human being nailed to a piece of wood. Think about it, only dead things, inanimate objects are made to be attached to trees. In our culture any animal treated in this way would evoke indignation and disgust, so to witness a human being treated in this way should horrify and outrage us.    
    In our collective social conscience we know humans are not to be treated in this way. We sense how dehumanizing this act really is. The one condemned to die in this shameful way is degraded to such extent that it is no longer a person; it’s not even at the level in which irrational animals deserve to be treated.
So, since today we are celebrating the feast of Christ the King, and the gospel takes us back to Good Friday and to our Lords final hours. I think it is fair to ask: Why would the church select this specific image to celebrate the Kingship of Jesus?
    This feast was instituted as an antidote against specific trends in human history which aimed at the complete eradication from every human endeavor of anything which had to do with God. Back in 1925 Pope Pious XI was worried about the way governments and societies were trying to eliminate any thought of God from art, science, ethics, and morality. So created this feast, a day in which the Church boldly proclaims Christ kingship not only over nature but over all of history and time; and especially over the lives of every men, woman and child which has ever lived on this planet. This feast culminates the liturgical year, after today; there is nothing else to celebrate, until the beginning of the new Church year next weekend with the First Sunday of advent.
    So, if the Church wants us to acknowledge Christ supreme power over “all things, visible and invisible”, why wouldn’t the Church, present Jesus at one of his most powerful moments? Maybe feeding thousands, or silencing his critics.
    The reason why, the Church today, gives us Jesus Crucified is so that we understand this; Christ, Our King is different than any other kings that has ever existed. If you have ever visited the great palaces of Europe, like Buckingham and Versailles you will know that human kings are defined by what they posses. We are used to see kings surrounded by luxury and wealth.  For human kings these things mean power and respect, their Royal status is defined by what they have. But Christ the King, Christ our King has nothing, he is a rejected man, abandoned by all, nailed to across, left to die, while the on lookers jeer and insult him. He leaves this world in the same way he came, poor and humble, with just His mother by his side. From where, then does Christ Royal status comes?  It comes not from what he has but from what he can do, from the authority He, as the Son of God, posses. It is His divine nature what makes him a powerful king. He has nothing and yet he has the power to do anything, and power over everything and everyone. He even has the power to open the gates of heaven closed to us by the sin of Adam and Eve. And he has the power to welcome anyone he wants into his kingdom, even to the lowest of criminals.  Human kings might have hundreds of thousands of soldiers at their disposal, the might have palaces and honor, but they have no authority over the eternal souls of their subjects. Only Jesus can forgive, only Jesus can take on our sins and offer himself as an acceptable sacrifice for our guilt, for all the offenses we commit against God’s perfect justice, only Jesus can break open the doors of paradise to us.
    For the son of God, status and material powers mean nothing, even dying in the horrendous way he did was nothing compared to the “kingdom, the power and the Glory” he shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, a kingdom, a power and a glory he wants to share with us.
    In this feast of Christ our King we are to recognize Him in his true self, humble and meek; unlike the Kings we are all used to see. We are reminded of how He was willing to sacrifice His own self so that we can have abundant life with him in heaven for all eternity.
    There, my brothers and sisters here is our King. Blessed be Holy name of Jesus, Lord of Lord and King of Kings, forever and ever, Amen.

"Viva Cristo Rey!!"