2cornucopias

Christ the King

In 13 Today's Church on 2015/11/22 at 12:00 AM

 

  • St. Stephen of Hungary is perhaps not a well‐known saint in the United States, but for Catholics in Eastern Europe, he is a renowned for having made Hungary a Christian nation.
  • While there are many stories of the saintly way he ruled his country, St. Stephen is beloved in large part because of his generous care for his subjects, most especially the poor.
  • Because he was the king, St. Stephen would often go about distributing alms to his poor subjects in disguise. One time he was even set upon by a rough band of beggars who beat him up, but nevertheless he continued his generosity to the poor and his love for all his subjects.
  • Incidentally, while the rest of St. Stephen’s body has decayed, his right hand and arm – which symbolizes his saintly ruling of Hungary – have remained incorrupt, even though he died in 1038!
  • Sadly, the roll of Catholic saints includes only a relatively short list of men who were kings or monarchs, men such as St. Stephen of Hungary, St. Louis IX of France, St. Henry, St. Edward the Confessor, and St. Wenceslaus.
  • Each of these men – and all the kings that the Church has recognized as saints – are celebrated as saints for their prudence, justice, generosity to the poor, and their tireless spreading of our Catholic Faith.
  • In short, kings who become saints are men who put the eternal welfare of the people they govern ahead of their temporal welfare, while not forgetting their temporal needs. They are men who earnestly seek to serve our Lord rather than themselves.
  • Indeed, the saintly kings are monarchs who understand that there is a power greater than their own to which they are subject, and to which they will someday have to render an account.
  • These saintly rulers show us that earthly leaders are called to exercise authority over their subjects as Christ does us. They should be strong of will, but gentle of heart. They should be just, but merciful – always seeking and serving the Truth.
  • A saintly ruler knows that, ultimately, his power is given to him and should be exercised for the benefit of others, and not for his own benefit.
  • While the list of saintly rulers is relatively short, the list of history’s evil rulers is quite long. Most of us can very easily come up with dozens of names of evil leaders just in the last century: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Mao Tse‐Tung, and Idi Amin, perhaps, being at the top of the list.
  • Perhaps there have been more evil leaders than saintly ones because holding power over others can be such a corrupting influence on man. The desire to dominate and rule over others is irresistible to some people, and thus temporal power is easily misused.
  • Indeed, history has borne out the axiom that, if a ruler is not grounded in virtue and dedicated to objective truth, then he will inevitably misuse his power in some way. For when a leader fails to see truth and serve it authentically, he cannot be truly just.
  • But even if the number of evil rulers in history is much greater than the number of saintly ones, we mustn’t despair, my brothers and sisters, for today’s feast reminds us that Christ is King over all.
  • While earthly rulers, both good and bad, will come and go, Christ is King for eternity!
  • Both our first and second reading speak in apocalyptic terms of Jesus’ second coming,when His kingship will be manifested to every creature.
  • We are given a sense of the Lord’s omnipotence; we are told that He is “the firstborn ofthe dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.” Jesus is “the Alpha and Omega . . . the onewho is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”
  • We are told that: “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,his kingship shall not be destroyed.” Thus, there can be no doubt that our Lord is all‐powerful, and that He will vanquish all of His enemies in due time.
  • But the Gospel shows us Jesus’ sovereignty in a different light. In front of Pilate ourLord appears subject to human authority. And as we all know, the weak Pilate – fearfulof maintaining his own power – condemns our Lord to be crucified.
  • But despite the appearance of being subject to Pilate’s authority, it is Jesus who, in thisexchange with Pilate, calls His subjects to obedience with kingly authority.
  • Jesus says: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
  • And with these words our Lord calls all of humanity to make a choice as to whom wewill serve in this world. Either we serve Him in truth, or we serve ourselves with thelies and half‐truths occasioned by pride, vanity, and selfishness.
  • Truly, today’s feast of Christ the King calls us to recognize the absolute primacy andpower of our Lord, and to humbly submit ourselves to His power – just as He humblysubmitted Himself to an ignoble death on the cross.
  • As we consider the fact that our Lord is the ultimate authority and that we will all haveto face Him someday as our king, we should ask ourselves now whom it is we serve in this world. Is it Christ the King, or is it ourselves? Or worse yet, have we blithely bought into the deceptions of an earthly leader?
  • And if we find that we do not serve our Lord whole‐heartedly, we must ask ourselves what it is that keeps us from doing so. Are we weak in faith? Do we not believe that Jesus truly is Lord of all? Are we attached to the things of this world? Or is there a particular sin that we refuse to give up?
  • My brothers and sisters, Christ is King. One day He will come again with great power and might to claim once and for all His sovereignty over all of creation. But despite His power, He is gentle and humble of heart, full of love for all who call upon Him.
  • Let us prove ourselves now to be worthy subjects of so great a king. May we rid ourselves of all that keeps us from serving Him as we should, and may we all be ready for that great and terrible day when we will come face to face with Him.
  • St. Stephen of Hungary, pray for us!© Reverend Timothy ReidFr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NCHomilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
    To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.Link to Homilies:
    http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

Copyright by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC

 

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