22 November 2010

The Way of the King

Solemnity of Christ the King – C – 21 November 2010

Readings: 2 Sam 5:1-3; Ps 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5 ; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43

On the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. The timing brings to the fore the message of Rev 1,8: “He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end.” He is the Lord of time and eternity, He is King of all.

1. Christ is the King of the Universe

Col 1,16-20 describes Christ’s dominion and kingship: “All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

He is the power and reason of creation. He is there before there was time and will be there at its ending. He has primacy over all. He has the fullness of Godhood. He is the center of the universe. In the end, everything will be reconciled to Him.

He is Lord of the kosmos, of the ordered universe. In Greek, the opposite of kosmos is khaos, whence we get chaos, that is, disorder, confusion, trouble. It is sin that brings chaos, destroying the harmony of creation, relationships, and integrity of individuals. Because of sin, death entered the world. St. Paul teaches in Rom 5,12: “through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned.”

But Jesus is greater than sin. He has power over sin. In the Gospel story this Sunday, He says to the repentant thief: "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." His resurrection conquered sin and death. That is why the salvation He offers cannot be limited to the economic or political. He offers us liberation from the ultimate enemy: sin. All other evils are proximate enemies inasmuch as all solutions other than Christ are proximate solutions. That is why the baptism we receive, whereby we enter into the life of Christ and the community of believers, is a baptism for the forgiveness of sin.

Here is a fable from Aesop about a colony of frogs who desired a king. This colony of frogs living happily in a pond over time became discontented with their way of life and thought they could do better if they have a king to rule over them. They called out to the king of gods Zeus to send them a king.

Zeus was amused by the frogs' request, and cast a large log down into their pond, saying "Behold, your king!" At first, the frogs were terrified of the huge log, but after seeing that it did not move, they began to climb upon it. Once they realized the log would not move, they called out again to Zeus to send them a real king, one that moved.

Annoyed by the frogs, Zeus said, "Very well, here is your new king," and sent a large stork to the pond. The stork began devouring frogs. In terror, frogs called out to Zeus to save them. Zeus refused, saying the frogs now had what they'd wanted, and had to face the consequences.

There are various moral lessons ascribed to the story. I would like to put a Christian spin to it. Too often we let many things rule our lives, things that either provide useless distractions or worse, the seed of our destruction, when, in fact, we already have a King who waits to rule over us justly and set us right: God above. Ps 20,8-9: “Some rely on chariots, others on horses, but we on the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we stand strong and firm.”

2. Christ is our King

Christ is King of the universe but He also has to reign in our lives. We may call ourselves a mikrokosmos, a little universe, a microcosm, for not only do we contain the stuff (or some of it) of the universe but our internal dynamics reflect the workings of the world around as well. A line from the spiritual song “One More Gift” says: “for the confusions around are mere reflections of what’s within.” Even in this mikrokosmos, there is also khaos, sin lurks and constantly wants to wrestle control.

In order to win over the forces of sin and chaos, we need to choose the standard of Christ the King. In particular, we need to follow His way.

What is the way of the King? He chose to become a helpless infant, an obedient Son, an itinerant teacher who has nowhere to lay his head, a betrayed friend, a persecuted person, a crucified convict, a dead Messiah, a risen Christ. He chose to undergo all these because He wanted to teach us that in order to be saved and truly free, we have to change our distorted ways of seeing things.

The setting of the Gospel story on this great feast of Christ the King is the crucifixion scene. The rulers of the Jews, the soldiers and even one of the two criminals crucified beside Him, taunted Him and ridiculed the title of Messiah given Him by the people. They didn’t know any better, they had a distorted way of looking at things.

The people in Jesus’ time were not the only ones with the wrong perspective. We want to be mighty and strong, He manifested power in weakness. We idolize greatness, He prefer to be among the least. We desire riches, Jesus became poor for us. We wallow in our selfishness, He showed us what it means to be a man for others. We seek fame, He hid His glory to be revealed at the appointed time. We give God our “no” many times, His was a never-ending “yes” to the Father.

Here is a little story from the life of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Shortly before her death, one of her sisters noticed her praying alone before an image of Christ and overheard a phrase she was saying: “Jesus, I have never refused you anything.” The sister realized the line practically summed up Mother Theresa’s life. In her words and actions, and even in the midst of doubt, she made Jesus her King.

Hindi ako makatanggi. Dai ako makasayuma. How many times have we heard those lines spoken by others and by us? Most, if not all perhaps, of those times those lines weren’t attributed to Jesus. Hindi ako makatanggi kina pare kaya inumaga sa inuman. Di makatanggi sa sigarilyo o sa pagkain kaya tigil muna ang dieta. Last election, many also made this a convenient alibi for accepting bribes: dipisil kaya magsayuma.

If we truly consider Christ our King we don’t refuse Him what He requests. And shouldn’t this also be our prayer? “Jesus, I will not refuse You anything.” When we live out each day the reality of this prayer, Jesus will fully reign in our hearts – and we will be truly fully free.

Viva el Cristo Rey!

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