Homily for the 34th Sunday – Christ the King
Where lies your loyalty and commitment?
Dearly Beloved, how was thanksgiving? I will probably spend some time to ask a few questions. Which of you celebrated thanksgiving just by yourselves? That will be a bit weird but the reality. How many of you had initial difficulty choosing where and who to celebrate thanksgiving with? Was anybody torn between celebrating with friends or celebrating with family? For someone like me who is so far from home, these are some of the few moments that you begin to appreciate friendship and family.
I have developed friendships over the years and tend to receive invitations more than any of you can imagine. The problem is always about deciding where to go. What criteria to adopt in choosing which family to spend such an occasion with. I take this opportunity to thank all those families who try to engage me on such occasions that I hardly feel alone. Regardless of how much we want to be by ourselves, there are always moments that we feel better and at peace when we see ourselves part of a group bigger than ourselves. We will travel long distances to be part of that which gives us identity and community.
The church reminds us today that we are not only united on the social level with family and friends. We belong to a spiritual community. We are part of something bigger and magnificent than ourselves. We belong to a kingdom. A kingdom which is not common to anything we can imagine or comprehend, a kingdom with Jesus as its King and ruler.
You are all here today because you are all children and members of this great kingdom of God. Belonging to Jesus does not cut us off from belonging to others; however it gives us a direction as to how we conduct ourselves in all other relationships. The challenge today is perhaps too often we make our social belonging more important than belonging to Jesus.
On a larger scale we belong to a country or a nation, we belong to a sorority, we have a circle of friends, we have a close family, we are into various kinds of relationships with our spouses and boyfriends and girlfriends. Again, let us understand that our commitment and love to these groupings does not cut us off or make us less members of this kingdom of God. At the same time, we remind ourselves of the pressures and sacrifices that these groups require of us each day or each week or even each month. We remind ourselves again of the conflicting demands that our earthly commitments make of us, especially when they are directly opposed to the message and practice of the commandments of God.
Dearly Beloved, What do we do when a government policy conflicts with that of the kingdom; what happens when work expectation doesn’t respect the conditions of the kingdom; what about when friends’ and family’s demands, in particular situations, are contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ; where your love for your partner or boyfriend / girlfriend or being accepted into a fraternity or a group will mean to throw away the values of the kingdom of God?
The readings today give us reasons to uphold the utmost defense and commitment to the kingdom over and above our earthly commitments especially when they conflict.
The first reading today is from the Book of Daniel and recounts a vision of the Prophet Daniel. In that vision, all peoples, nations, and languages serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed. What won’t you give up to be part of such a system?
The second reading is from the Book of Revelation, we are told, “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Why won’t you entrust your life and future to such a person or a king, who is willing to give up his life for you?
The Gospel of Saint John today picks a scene from the last days in the suffering and death of Jesus to talk about his kingship which is not of this world. It’s only a reminder of the challenges we need to overcome if we truly want to remain part of the kingdom.
Dearly Beloved, The invitation today in celebrating the solemnity of Christ the King is to make our belonging to Jesus and his kingdom our priority and the most important aspect of our life. When we are conflicted in our commitments, let us always make Jesus our king and the values of the kingdom our priority. We may perhaps not be consistent with our choice of eternal values towards being with the Lord; however, let us have faith in the Lord who knows the genuineness of our hearts in search of him. He knows the very ways that even in our brokenness we make efforts. He knows our struggles to remain with him. Let this faith keep our hope alive even as we proclaim his Lordship and kingship over us. It is my prayer that Jesus bring peace and joy to the many hearts that are open to his kingship.