Homily for Feast of Christ the King, Cycle C

posted Nov 21, 2016, 11:32 AM by Church Office   [ updated Nov 21, 2016, 11:32 AM by Michelle Massung ]


            When the bishops put together the lectionary, I can’t understand why they chose this Gospel for the feast of Christ the King.  The must have been tired with this being the last Sunday of the Church year.  I mean what were they thinking?  As we heard in the crucifixion story, Christ is called he king of the Jews and as a result, he is put to death; some way to treat a king!!  Maybe if we take a closer look at this passage, we might have a deeper insight into why this reading was selected. 

            After Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple area, the Jews were looking for a way to kill Jesus.  He held a great position of honor among the people and the Jewish leaders needed to eliminate him completely so their economic and social system could be restored. He is condemned to death for claiming to be the King of the Jews.  His sentence, as we all know, is to be crucified.  He is sentenced to this type of death because it caused the person to die in the most humiliating and shameful manner.  It would have been much easier to just cut off his head, but the Jewish leaders really wanted Jesus to experience the greatest humiliation possible.  The entire process from his trial, the scourging, the crown of thorns, his torture, the carrying of the cross, and his death by crucifixion were all part of the process of completely humiliating Jesus. 

            He was crucified with two other criminals on purpose to show that Jesus was no more than a common criminal.  It was done out in public so the people could walk by and insult Jesus, spit on him, and publically ridicule and humiliate him.  Crucifixion was a very slow and painful death and the victim suffered greatly, and eventually died by suffocation.  This certainly is not how a king was to be treated. 

            So again, I ask, why is this passage used today on the feast of Christ the King if all we read about or hear is his death? When Christ came to earth, he humbled himself and became man and came to serve and not to be served.  More importantly, he came to do the will of his Father and not his own will.  The two thieves represent the two choices Jesus had to make; the first choice that was presented to Jesus was by Satan through the bad thief.  He uses the same language that was used when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.  He asked Jesus to save himself and the two thieves.  The other choice was presented by the good thief.  He not only recognized his own sinfulness, but also the innocence of Jesus.  He realized that Jesus was king over sin and death and that in his dying, Jesus would reopen paradise. To the Jews, this concept of paradise had been closed by the sins of Adam and Eve. Jesus now has a choice to make, even in his own weakness and being at the point of death.  He had to choose to save himself and the others, or to choose to do the will of his Father and to die for our sake.  Of course we know which decision he made. 

            As a result of his choice, he becomes the king over sin and death and opens up paradise for all those that choose to die to self.  The good thief is the first person Jesus welcomes into this paradise.  I find it interesting that he is the first one to be saved, even though he lived his life completely in sin, yet, in his final hours here on earth, repents and turns to Jesus. Jesus rewards him for his repentance.  As we can see, it is never too late and no sin ever to great for Jesus to forgive.  The good thief recognized that only a king could dispense with a sentence for a criminal.  He asks Jesus to forgive him his sins and his sentence to hell.  Jesus agrees to forgive him and to welcome him into the new kingdom Jesus creates as a result of his triumph over sin and death. 

            Jesus is the model for all of us.  We too are given choices and have to decide which way to go; to die to self and to do the will of God in our lives, or to live in a selfish and self centered manner.  The choice is ours.  If we choose to die to self, we are then free to join Jesus in paradise along with all the angels and saints, and the good thief.  Or we can choose to live a life of selfishness and protect our lives.  We can choose to use our gifts to love God and to serve our neighbors, or we can choose to use them for our self interests, the choice is ours. Now, some of you may be saying, Fr. John, I don’t think that I am completely self-centered and compHomily for Feast of Christ the King, Cycle C

 

            When the bishops put together the lectionary, I can’t understand why they chose this Gospel for the feast of Christ the King.  The must have been tired with this being the last Sunday of the Church year.  I mean what were they thinking?  As we heard in the crucifixion story, Christ is called he king of the Jews and as a result, he is put to death; some way to treat a king!!  Maybe if we take a closer look at this passage, we might have a deeper insight into why this reading was selected. 

            After Jesus overturned the tables in the Temple area, the Jews were looking for a way to kill Jesus.  He held a great position of honor among the people and the Jewish leaders needed to eliminate him completely so their economic and social system could be restored. He is condemned to death for claiming to be the King of the Jews.  His sentence, as we all know, is to be crucified.  He is sentenced to this type of death because it caused the person to die in the most humiliating and shameful manner.  It would have been much easier to just cut off his head, but the Jewish leaders really wanted Jesus to experience the greatest humiliation possible.  The entire process from his trial, the scourging, the crown of thorns, his torture, the carrying of the cross, and his death by crucifixion were all part of the process of completely humiliating Jesus. 

            He was crucified with two other criminals on purpose to show that Jesus was no more than a common criminal.  It was done out in public so the people could walk by and insult Jesus, spit on him, and publically ridicule and humiliate him.  Crucifixion was a very slow and painful death and the victim suffered greatly, and eventually died by suffocation.  This certainly is not how a king was to be treated. 

            So again, I ask, why is this passage used today on the feast of Christ the King if all we read about or hear is his death? When Christ came to earth, he humbled himself and became man and came to serve and not to be served.  More importantly, he came to do the will of his Father and not his own will.  The two thieves represent the two choices Jesus had to make; the first choice that was presented to Jesus was by Satan through the bad thief.  He uses the same language that was used when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.  He asked Jesus to save himself and the two thieves.  The other choice was presented by the good thief.  He not only recognized his own sinfulness, but also the innocence of Jesus.  He realized that Jesus was king over sin and death and that in his dying, Jesus would reopen paradise. To the Jews, this concept of paradise had been closed by the sins of Adam and Eve. Jesus now has a choice to make, even in his own weakness and being at the point of death.  He had to choose to save himself and the others, or to choose to do the will of his Father and to die for our sake.  Of course we know which decision he made. 

            As a result of his choice, he becomes the king over sin and death and opens up paradise for all those that choose to die to self.  The good thief is the first person Jesus welcomes into this paradise.  I find it interesting that he is the first one to be saved, even though he lived his life completely in sin, yet, in his final hours here on earth, repents and turns to Jesus. Jesus rewards him for his repentance.  As we can see, it is never too late and no sin ever to great for Jesus to forgive.  The good thief recognized that only a king could dispense with a sentence for a criminal.  He asks Jesus to forgive him his sins and his sentence to hell.  Jesus agrees to forgive him and to welcome him into the new kingdom Jesus creates as a result of his triumph over sin and death. 

            Jesus is the model for all of us.  We too are given choices and have to decide which way to go; to die to self and to do the will of God in our lives, or to live in a selfish and self centered manner.  The choice is ours.  If we choose to die to self, we are then free to join Jesus in paradise along with all the angels and saints, and the good thief.  Or we can choose to live a life of selfishness and protect our lives.  We can choose to use our gifts to love God and to serve our neighbors, or we can choose to use them for our self interests, the choice is ours. Now, some of you may be saying, Fr. John, I don’t think that I am completely self-centered and completely loving and generous.  I am somewhere in between.  What am I called to do?  Well, look at those aspects of your life that are preventing you from growing closer to Christ. It may be materialism, or other possessions, accumulating power, or gossiping, or being angry, or swearing, or sins of the flesh, or addictions.  We need to let go of these things in our lives and to ask Jesus for forgiveness, like the good thief did.  He is a great example of it is never too late to repent and to ask Jesus for his mercy and love.  He gives us hope that we too can be forgiven no matter how grave our sin and how long it has been since we have been to confession.  In this way, we too can be forgiven and join the good thief in paradise where Jesus is King. 

            It is all about choices.  Do we choose to satisfy our own earthly desires or to choose to love God and die to self?  In the end, we are all going to die like the thieves did.  The question is when.  Do we choose to die to self now and be welcomed into paradise later or do we choose to live it up now and risk losing paradise forever. The choice is yours.  Choose wisely.

 letely loving and generous.  I am somewhere in between.  What am I called to do?  Well, look at those aspects of your life that are preventing you from growing closer to Christ. It may be materialism, or other possessions, accumulating power, or gossiping, or being angry, or swearing, or sins of the flesh, or addictions.  We need to let go of these things in our lives and to ask Jesus for forgiveness, like the good thief did.  He is a great example of it is never too late to repent and to ask Jesus for his mercy and love.  He gives us hope that we too can be forgiven no matter how grave our sin and how long it has been since we have been to confession.  In this way, we too can be forgiven and join the good thief in paradise where Jesus is King. 

            It is all about choices.  Do we choose to satisfy our own earthly desires or to choose to love God and die to self?  In the end, we are all going to die like the thieves did.  The question is when.  Do we choose to die to self now and be welcomed into paradise later or do we choose to live it up now and risk losing paradise forever. The choice is yours.  Choose wisely.

 

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