Since today is the Feast of Christ the King,
we might wonder why these readings are chosen for this feast.
Or, to put it more plainly:
Why is our King on a Cross?
He’s not on the throne, dispensing wisdom and justice.
He’s not being received with joy as he enters his city.
He was--on Palm Sunday, several days before.
But now he’s on the Cross. Why?
There are a lot of reasons, but one is,
because the people who ought to have welcomed him, did not.
Instead, they beat him and nailed him to the Cross.
There’s a very simple, but very important point from this.
Lots of people don’t like Jesus Christ.
We have these debates:
oh, if only the Church would say this,
or stop talking about that.
Everything would be so wonderful.
Or you’ll hear, it was so wonderful when John XXIII was pope.
Or when Father Friendly was pastor.
But notice: it isn’t lazy bishops, or mean priests,
or the Church’s teaching on contraception
or anything else that they nailed to the Cross;
But Jesus Christ himself.
Which is what Jesus told us:
This world does not want him as King.
“If they hate me,” he said, “they will hate you.”
This is so hard--but it’s so important.
We live in this world; it’s all we know.
And when Christ speaks of “the world” that hates him,
He doesn’t mean the beautiful world
he himself created, and all that’s good about it.
He means the way this world operates.
The things its values. That’s the kingdom of this world.
And that’s what put him on the Cross--rather than worship him.
And it’s still true.
The system of this world is driven by
greed, by lust, by wrath, by pride, and by grasping for power.
Last week, I saw a powerful movie called, “Twelve Years a Slave.”
It tells the story about Solomon Northup, a real person,
a free black man who lived in New York State in the 1840s,
who was kidnapped and taken to Louisiana to be a slave.
After 12 years, friends found him and set him free.
Now the shocking thing, to me,
wasn’t the violence or cruelty,
but the thought of so many people who took part;
And even more, who shrugged and looked away.
And they were almost all Christians.
It reminds me of what Dr. Martin Luther King said,
A century later, when the issue was segregation:
“History will have to record
that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition
was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Now, our response is to say, oh, that was then; we’re different.
Sometimes; but not always.
Things have certainly changed
in so many ways for the better--
thanks to Dr. King and others
who didn’t remain silent or indifferent.
But there are other injustices crying out to heaven.
And good people still remain silent.
This week, I read an article
about the latest developments on “stem-cell research.”
And you’ll recall that while some of that
involves stem cells obtained in an upright fashion,
some of it comes from the destruction of a tiny, unborn child.
And when this started a few years ago, many--
including the Catholic Church--
said no, it is wrong to destroy human life, period--
and medical research is no excuse.
Well, the Church wasn’t listen to.
Now, this research has grown into a vast, billion-dollar business,
involving not just a few scientists, but industry across the board,
From drug companies to the testing of consumer and food products.
And now, all the energy is going to cloning tiny unborn children,
To guarantee an abundant supply.
The truth is, I could cite many examples.
My point isn‘t to say how terrible the world is.
This is a good world, but it needs to be converted.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving.
But if we’re not careful,
it becomes more about gluttony than prayer.
Soon it will be Christmas:
will it be about the Savior? Or the stuff?
I asked earlier, why is our King on the Cross, and not on the throne.
Well, the first throne we can offer him is our own hearts:
Is he on that throne?
Our King is on the Cross
because that’s where this sinful world puts him.
Our task--his invitation to us--is to join him
in confronting the injustice, the wrath, and the greed,
That govern so much of our world.
First, king in our hearts. Our families. Our Church.
Someday, the whole world will follow.