Sermon in CR church, 23
November 2014. Christ the King
Year A: Ezek 34:11-16,
Ephesians 1:15-23, Matt 25:31-46.
encyclical that established the feast of Christ
the King was addressed to Catholic bishops but in fact Pope Pius XI really
wanted this feast to change the lives of the laity.
faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength
and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal.
If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men,
purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion;
if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties
is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with
perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of
Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of
God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love
God above all things and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in
our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification
of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice
re is really no need to say any more but the
appointed readings tell us to what this sort of Kingship is to be like. First of
all, Ezekiel tells the new King David will be a Shepherd, who will cherish the
lost, the injured and the weak.
Significantly, the epistle
is addressed to people in
was a power centre, both for human and divine authority. It was full of
prestigious temples and a centre for government. We remember that it was the
Hellenistic rulers, successors of Alexander, who took divine honours for
writer emphasises that God gives Christ supreme authority over all others:
specifically pagan deities and all earthly rulers. It is to be exercised in
favour of the lost, the injured, the weak. What would he have said of the
alliance between state and church, from which both seemed to profit, from
onwards? It was only when the Pope saw that the state was taking, as it
were, divine authority for itself, over against the church, that he insisted
once again that Christ Himself is the only real, the only genuine, authority.
Until then, it is clear that the church only too often colluded with the power
of the State.
People brought up in
know this well. Following Micah 7:6, two of the Gospels quote Jesus foretelling
how He would divide families: “Do you think I have come to give peace on
earth? No, I tell you, rather division. For henceforth in one house there will
be five divided, three against two and two against three.
y will be divided, father against son and son against father …” L
e 12:51-52. All the more painful, when the division was in secret, only
revealed after the end of the Communist state.
How is it that New
Testament writers could be so supremely confident that ALL authority in heaven
and on earth is given to Jesus Christ? We, his followers, perhaps especially
those who try to follow him in the Community of the Resurrection itself, are
tempted to take the fact of the Resurrection for granted: after all it has been
around for nearly 2000 years. Yet when it first hit the world, it was the
supremely new, unprecedented, event. All these divinities, with their splendid
and stunning worship, all these rulers with their power, as they put it, over
life and death, had never claimed to raise the dead. In fact they had the power
of death, no more.
power of raising from the dead, no one could claim that. It is that, THE
supreme, unprecedented, power, that God exercised in raising His Son, Son of
David, Son of Man, Son of God and having raised Jesus from the dead, the Father
hands over that same authority to Him.
Back to the Gospel passage
for today. Jesus knows what is going to happen to Him and its consequences for
His followers. He is speaking with confidence. He is not speaking of a distant
Second Coming, at the end of time, at the end of the world. “When the Son of
Man comes in his glory…” when He comes, then it will be that those who
cherish his flock, His flock on earth, are rewarded, just as if they had
actually cherished … Him, Jesus Himself. Jesus, Christ the King, is already
ruling the world, in the here and now, taking note of how his brothers and
sisters suffer now and rewards those who succour them.
Of course He doesn’t give
money, or power, or an easy life - people running around at our beck and call.
No. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do
I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be
afraid.” John 14.27. We know from experience how some people are indeed like
that, are at peace, are centres of peace, while those who pursue their own
wicked purposes in this life, however much at first they seem to prosper, come
to a pretty sticky end.
re will indeed be a be a final complete
Judgement, at the last day but Jesus is already ruling the world.