Who rules my heart? What rules my life?

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

Audio for homily

The feast of Christ -- the king…
What do kings do?  They rule their subjects.   They make law.
They hand down decisions.  They command an army.  That’s any king.

A truly good king loves his subjects, even when they don’t love him.
A good king calls his people to order,
especially when chaos threatens to disturb the peace.
A good king insures justice for his people
especially when any of his subjects take advantage of others.
A good king defends his people from harm,
especially those too weak to defend themselves.

But if we are to honor Jesus as King this day,
we need to expand our notion of kingship.

If we look to Jesus as the model
we find a king who calls his subjects to defer not only to him
but also to one another -
as if each were the servant of the other.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects  to count their wealth
as a burden, not a boon,
unless that wealth is shared, freely, with those who have none.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to surrender their power and authority - in service of others -
just as he did for us, on the Cross,
not just for the good, but for sinners as well.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects to keep their eyes
on a kingdom other than the realm that is theirs at the moment,
to keep their eyes on a reign of peace that is yet to come -
but to live, even now, the peace of what is yet to be.

Just hours before Jesus was crucified, Pilate asked him,
“Are you a king?” and Jesus answered,
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.
We honor the rule of Jesus over our lives
when we listen to his voice
and attend to the truth of his word above any other.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives when, like him,
we surrender even our own authority
in service of those who are poor and treated unjustly.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives
when we count his love as our greatest wealth,
our most precious possession.

There are many powers in our lives, competing to reign over,
to rule our lives, yours and mine.
What powers?
It might be:
my own selfishness, my poor choices,  my stress, my bills, my worries,
my anger, my resentments, my addiction, my envy, my problems,
my difficulties, my grudges, my bad habits -
all of these can rule my days and nights, my thoughts and my dreams
and rob me of real peace.
Even some things good in themselves can come between me
and the One who has the greatest claim on my service, my allegiance.

Jesus turned down a crown the people offered him, a crown of power,
but he willingly took upon himself another crown,
a thorny sign of his surrender of his power
for the sake of others.
And that is the truth to which he came to testify,
the truth he calls us to live.

We Christians are citizens of a kingdom
founded on Jesus’ rejection of kingship
as the world understands it.
We are citizens of a kingdom
in which neither Donald nor Hillary were pretenders to the throne.

Only the Lord has a legitimate claim to rule our hearts and our lives.
And if Jesus does not rule my heart and my life,
then we must ask who does? and we must ask what does?

If the surrender of Jesus in love, in service of others,
is not my model of success and achievement, what is?

If the Word of Jesus is not the truth by which I live,
by whose truth do I make my way in life?

There are so many realities and powers
competing for the chance to rule our hearts and our lives.
Advent and Christmas are just ahead for us
and the commercial world has been gearing up for weeks
to seduce us into a corner as far away as possible
from the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace.

Will we fall for that, or will we do our best
to maintain Christmas as, first, a feast of the heart
and only by extension a feast of tree lights, tinsel, and gifts?
It is not by accident that we worship, week after week,
in the shadow of the Cross,
and that we call the Supper we share
- the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

Pray with me
that the Word, the truth, the surrender, the love of Jesus
rule our hearts and lives
and draw us to the reign of his peace, promised and shared
in the sacrament that is ours at his royal Table.


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1 comment:

  1. A joyful, hopeful prayer on the Feast of Christ the King:

    Jesus! Help me not be put off by sincerely pious, but sometimes over-the-top human metaphors used to praise you as King,

    In the Gospels you are unambiguous. You clearly and often invited us (me) to call you brother, not King. Help me accept that invitation fully and happily, sometimes speaking out, sometimes keeping silent.

    Help me keep a balance in my dialog with You by remembering You celebrated the title "brother" (a sibling not a royal relationship) when you told Your disciples to address God as "Our Father."

    Faced with well-meaning and strongly pious but totally human analogy about Kingship, help me not think of a brother as King since it subtly creates a distance between brothers.

    Help me appreciate how a loving brother has more power than a King to strengthen me where I'm weak, to trust a brother to help me clean up messes I make, to manage and moderate my passionate tendencies, to balance my ups and downs...my inconsistencies and human unpredictability.

    Help me recognize you as the brother who encourages and models generosity when I hold back.

    Help me accept the meaning of your gospel lessons: a King might possess coercive and overwhelming external power, but a brother shares my DNA fiber and is infinitely more powerful in shaping (and ruling) my thoughts and actions.

    Because of your repeated gospel invitations to call you brother, I have a hunch that you smile as a brother would at the incongruity of being called King.

    Give me courage to smile along with you.


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