May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts
Today the last Sunday of the year the Church celebrates we celebrate the feast of Christ the King…
Christ the King who laid down his life for each one of us.
Christ the King whose simplicity of life teaches us what’s really important.
Christ the King who generously and wantonly gives mercy to anyone who asks it.
I never find it easy preaching on this feast day..
We have a hard time understanding Kings in the United States..
A King was the protector of his people.
A good King would even lay down his life for his People
A King ruled over his Kingdom his word was law and if he was a good king a fair king, a holy king, then everyone flourished in his kingdom.
A King was also the ultimate Judge the provider of Justice…
It was he who punished and he who granted mercy.
A King protects
A King rules
A King judges
It is indeed appropriate that we celebrate the feast of Christ our King.
If we read the Gospel carefully there were two types of people in the crowd at the crucifixion.
Those who attacked Jesus were mostly the religious leaders of his time
They taunted and ridiculed the Jesus mercilessly.
They looked on his crucifixion as a complete victory and they looked on Jesus as a fraud and a failure.
For a while it seemed like he would be a threat to them.
For a while they were concerned about the number of people following him.
Now as he hung on the cross their position of power and prestige were secure.
There were others in the crowd
They had the courage not to go along with the majority.
They stood at the foot of the cross in silence and in prayer.
What does the passage say to us?
What are we supposed to learn from it?
I propose to you three thoughts.
I believe the first lesson is this….
We should never try and fit the message of Christ into our culture or world view.
That was the tragedy of the religious leaders of his time.
Jesus didn’t fit their mold or expectations so they dismissed him.
As followers of Christ it is our job, rather our sacred mission, to bring our world to Christ
NOT water down or change the Gospel so that it is more acceptable to the world.
This is a mistake that many people make.
So often people say to me “come on father get with the times… nobody believes that anymore”
The times may change but the teaching of Christ doesn’t.
People who think this way seem to think that the truths of the Gospel are dependent on cultures and times and fads and even majority rule.
It’s as if they feel that we should vote on what we believe or not.
In season and out of season at any cost we must remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ the King.
Nations come and go, cultures change,
what people think changes like the wind,
but the Truths of the Gospel remain the same.
The second point which we need to consider is this.
This Gospel should cause us all to ask ourselves if Jesus were crucified today where would be in the crowd which side would we be on ?
Would we join with the vocal abusive majority or would we have the courage to stand in reverent silence.
Do we have the courage to stand up for the truth of the Gospel or do we follow the crowd?
Are we leaders or followers at work or in our communities.
Finally the Gospel today challenges us to hope
To hope in all circumstance
That is what the good thief did
There is no question that the men who hung on either side of Jesus were guilty as charged.
They were only facing justice.
They deserved what they got.
Yet one was saved and one was not.
Despite a life of horrendously wrong choices
Despite a life of hurting others
Despite a life of selfish self-seeking and arrogantly putting his wants and needs before others
The repentant thief had the courage to say I’m sorry
He admitted he was guilty
then he said I’m sorry…
And that’s exactly how we are supposed to ask for forgiveness.
Admit that we are wrong and say I’m sorry
If we do that God’s mercy can always be ours.
There is no limit to God’s Mercy
And because he dared to hope and ask forgiveness
The repentant their heard these words
“Today you will be with me in paradise”
Let us be faithful to the Gospel in season and out of season
Let us be willing to stand up for the truth as leaders not followers
Let us be men and women who seek God’s forgiveness and show mercy to others.