Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christ the King

(Christ the King, C)

The Lord’s torturers made fun of him as he hung upon the Cross. They said, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”

This only shows that they didn’t know the Scriptures, or the ways of God, or what it means to be the King of the Jews. For as we heard in the first reading from the second book of Samuel, God said to David, “you shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be commander of Israel.” The King of the Jews is not someone who saves himself, but one who shepherds and leads. He is a “suffering servant,” as the prophet Isaiah teaches.

But this is often hard for us to grasp well. God is not a God who is going to control the world. He is not going to make us rich, he is not going to shield us from the consequences of our sins, or from the violence we insist upon for this world with our selfishness.

Look at Christ the King! There he is, nailed to the Cross, unable even to move his hands or feet. This is not a powerful person in any sense that our culture or our world knows.

The power and kingship of Christ consists not in controlling or ruling over the world, but in giving himself, in emptying himself of all his divine prerogatives as God. Just as he offers himself on the Cross, he pours out his divine life in this Eucharist.

This is Christ the King. Not a God who issues commands and demands our subservience, but a God who doesn’t even hold on to being God, and who empties his own divine life into these little forms of bread and wine. He is not a God who rules over us from some heaven, but a God who humbly nourishes us from below.

This is our call as well, brothers and sisters. If we want to be leaders according to the model of Christ the King, we must offer ourselves for the nourishment and support of others. Control, power, influence, fame, glory...these are all dead ends. We could never have enough of them to satisfy us anyway. We should let go of our desire for these things, and accept that true greatness lies in emptying ourselves for the sake of others. And if we can begin to do this in even the smallest way, we too will hear quiet promise of the Lord in our heart, “today you will be with me in paradise.”

Christ the King is the Good Shepherd, who shepherds the New Israel, the people of God, to true freedom.

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