Homily for Sunday, November 24

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Homily for Christ the King
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

It strikes me that while people are already talking about Christmas,
I haven’t heard any conversations ramping up
to this day’s celebration of the Christ the King.

And yet, we’re celebrating one in the same Lord.
Won’t be long before we’ll be singing,
“Hark, the herald angels sing, glory to: the newborn King! 

So, where are the Christ the King decorations?
Where are the Christ the King sales?
Are you sending out any Christ the King cards?
Likely not…

• Of course, it could be we prefer a story of  angels and shepherds
to a story of soldiers and jealous rulers.
• Could be we prefer Mary’s birth pangs
to her grieving over her crucified son.
• Could be we prefer the baby king of Christmas
to the adult king of this day’s feast.
• Could be we prefer the promise of the Christ Child’s kingship
to the adult consequences of that same promise.
• Could be we prefer the wood of the manger to the wood of the Cross.

But whatever our preferences  --  we can’t have one without the other.
The child wrapped in swaddling clothes in the poverty of the stable
was being prepared to be wrapped in linen
and buried in borrowed tomb.

The infant king to whom the magi brought frankincense and myrrh
would be the grown-up king for whom women brought spices
for anointing his body on Easter morning.

• Ours is a king who never knew a palace or a throne.
• His only crown was made of thorns.
• He is the Prince of Peace and has no army.
• His government is pure justice and his only law is love.
• He expects us to serve him
by serving one another as he has served us.
And he served us by stripping himself of everything he was due
and everything he had, including life itself.
 • The most powerful King of kings, in his total innocence,
laid down his life for us, the guilty.

We all know that any infant can steal our heart away.
That’s part of the enduring beauty and attraction
of the Christmas story:
God makes himself small enough for us to cradle him in our arms.
But that child born in a stable grew up
and now asks that we become again like children,
to  be cradled in his arms.

The boy of Bethlehem grew up to be the Christ of Calvary
to steal our hearts away from pride and envy,
from selfishness and sin
and to shape our hearts in the image, in the likeness of his own.
We surrender our hearts to a Child in his mother’s arms
and he surrenders his heart for us on the arms of the Cross.
The child we name our king at Christmas
reigns from the throne of the Cross,
crowned by the thorns of our need for his mercy.

Christ, the King crucified for our failure to love,
still opens his arms in love for us.
Christ, the King with no army to defend him,
surrenders in love that we might be set free.
Christ, the King mocked by those who did not,
who would not understand,
spills his life’s blood when our sins mock his fidelity.

In paintings you’ll find images of Christ crowned with jewels
and robed in royal garments.
And certainly Jesus, the crucified and RISEN King
now and forever sits in glory at his Father’s right hand
where, “Hark!  the herald angels sing his glory” still.

But he’s no longer a baby in Bethlehem,
though he’s born again in the hearts of us all.
He no longer hangs upon the Cross
though he suffers in every pain we bear in his name.

He is our King.
He rules our hearts with love.
He is sovereign over all we are and all we have.
He enlists an army of messengers – us -
dispatched on a mission to tell of his saving love.

As King, he judges the world in a perfect blend of justice and mercy.
He is the wisest of rulers and shares with us, his subjects,
the knowledge and truth of his heart and word.
He’s a King who sees to his peoples’ needs:
sharing the food of his Body and Blood,
the gift of his regal sacrifice offered once on the Cross
and now on the altar of our prayer.

Not just today but every day
we are invited to sit at the King’s table.
We have not earned our place here,
it’s all his royal, lavish gift to us.

Pray that he steal our hearts away
and make us loyal subjects of his truth,
faithful to his crown of love.

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