Homily for Sunday, November 23, 2014 (Christ the King)

Readings for Today

How do you see God? I think of this question every time we come to the feast of Christ the King. The first reason, is that the notion of kings, in this day and age, are often, when we think about them today, something that could be considered largely ceremonial. There are very few kings in the world today, who have any real political power. And so, thinking about Jesus Christ as a king, could lead one to think that God’s role in our world is largely ceremonial, we can go to church, and we can even be moved by the liturgical celebrations that we see, but when it comes to really making a difference in our day-to-day lives, we can think of Christ the King in the same way that we think of the kings and for that matter Queens of the world who really don’t seem to do very much.

Or, second, perhaps we long for the days of the past. And so when we think of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are given this image of the King on a large and ornate throne, surrounded by numerous individuals who are at the beck and call of the King. with this image of God, we can think of Jesus as far off and distant, someone we would never dare approach, for we do not share in any way the life of royalty.

When we think of the image of God, it can be very difficult indeed. Certainly, understanding God is beyond our ability. God is far greater than anything we can imagine. For that matter, even the life that awaits us in heaven, is in the words of St. Paul something that we cannot simply conceive of in any way, on our own. He tells us, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” The only way we could know these things, is because of the free and gracious action of God. It is God who is revealed this to us in a way that helps us to understand.

Because God is so far beyond our understanding, there can also be a temptation to see the person of Jesus really is not much different than you and me. Of course, Jesus is fully human, but we cannot forget that Jesus is also fully divine. It is in fact these natures of Jesus, which are important when we consider the question of God, who God is, and what things are important to God. For the real mystery of the incarnation of Jesus is in seeing how the imminent and the transcendent coexist. It simply is not easy for us to put together a notion of God that is very close to us and very near to us, on the one hand, with the notion of God that is magnificent and awesome and outstanding, on the other hand.

Such is what we are confronted with as we think of this feast of Christ the King. Historically, this feast was instituted as a reminder to people in the age of increasing nationalism, where participation was rightly emphasized, that this participation should not come at the expense of our understanding that we were also citizens of God. There was a concern that with rising nationalism, people were forgetting that their primary allegiance resided first and foremost in how we serve God.

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