“[The] wonderful irony at the heart of the Christian proclamation: the King of the Universe is a crucified criminal, who utterly spends himself in love.” Fr. Robert Barron
If I was a brave person, I would end the homily right here with this quote. We could spend the next 9 minutes or so in quiet, reflecting on it and asking ourselves if we truly believe it.
Can it be true that this Christ, who we call king, was a crucified criminal who utterly spent himself in love? If we believe this, then what are we called to do as one of his followers?
In reality, it is even a harder concept to grasp as we are more than followers of this king.
Let me explain what I mean by that statement- that we are more than followers of the Christ.
These affairs are very formal. There was an extensive head table made up of thirty or so dignitaries from the Toronto area. Many at the table had a title. For example there was The Right Honourable former Prime Minister who was joined by other Honourable ministers of her Majesty’s various governments and an impressive collection of their Worships’ and Excellency’s.
The Master of Ceremonies for the evening handled his duties with warmth and grace. He was a big fan of His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins. You could sense that he was thrilled that he was asked to be the Master of Ceremonies for the dinner as it was the first Cardinal Collins was to host as a ‘Prince of the Church’, a title we bestow on those elevated to the College of Cardinals.
We love titles, in many ways we need them, so we can designate who the important people are among us.
This is one of the reasons the scene in this week’s gospel is so confusing.
The exchange between Jesus and Pilate, powerfully depicted in the movie, The Gospel of John, illustrates that our King, Jesus of Nazareth, is unlike any king the world will ever experience.
If you have studied any history depicting kings and queens, you will notice that many, if not all, are obsessed with their titles and the power that comes with these birth rites.
In the exchange in today’s Gospel, Jesus seems uninterested in the title King. Pilate cannot understand this man who the authorities brought before him. When he asks Jesus if he is a king, our Lord answers: “My kingdom does not belong to this world.”
The passage for this week concludes with Jesus saying: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Jesus told us earlier that “he is the truth, the way and the light. “
Here is where it gets tricky for us, 2000 years after this scene played itself out in Roman occupied Jerusalem.
Many of you here at mass today would agree that Christ is your king, and that you are a part of his kingdom. We believe the kingdom of God has come on earth just as it has in heaven.
On numerous occasions Jesus reminds us that God is our Father, and that he is our brother. Therefore, if Christ is the King, and we are his brothers and sisters, what does that make us?
Cardinal Collins maybe a Prince of the Church, but we are all princes and princesses of the Kingdom.
With this title comes a great responsibility. As brothers and sisters of Christ the King, regardless of our age or worldly social standing, we are anointed to follow him and to carry out his mission on earth.
What is that mission? It can be found in many places within the New Testament.
One such passage is Mathew 25. Jesus gives us our mission as princes and princesses of the kingdom which is to see Christ in the poor, the sick, the stranger and the prisoner.
Today, we have an opportunity to follow our king and to be the leaders of his kingdom. This is the weekend, we seek followers of Christ the King, who hear and act on his voice and call to feed the least amongst us. We do this by helping 200 families and 100 individuals who are in need this Christmas.
Here is a true story about how the kingdom has come here on earth as it is in heaven. Jay (not his real name) is a man who is a thousand miles from his home in the far north. Jay has taught me a great deal about what it means to struggle with demons and dreadful memories from a childhood so dysfunctional it would be hard for most of us to relate to it.
Jay received one of the Christmas’ Bags from the folks of St. Patrick’s that was made possible through your kind donation of gift cards. We had a small Christmas party at the halfway house where he was living, and I wished him a Blessed Christmas.
It was only a week ago that I heard the ‘rest of the story.’ One day after this dinner Jay took his Christmas bag, which had an assortment of items in it and he set out on a journey. He spent the next little while finding people of the street who needed the items more than he did, and he gave his gifts away.
Understand that Jay has very little. He has no money to speak of and few personal items of any value.
Your gifts allowed Jay to help nameless strangers. This gave Jay a gift far greater than any of the items in his bag. It allowed him to be a prince of this kingdom by helping those who are least among us.
Fr. Robert Barron reminds us that “[The] wonderful irony at the heart of the Christian proclamation is that the King of the Universe is a crucified criminal, who utterly spends himself in love.”
The irony is even more pronounced when we realize that we share in his Kingship as we are his brothers and sisters, and we too are called to spend ourselves completely by giving our love away freely to those we have never met.
Today is one of those times we are called, as a prince or princess of the kingdom to spend ourselves completely.