AD SENSE

Christ The King - 34th Sunday C

Fr. Jude Botelho:

In the first reading from the Book of Samuel we hear that though David was anointed King, the northern tribes later acknowledged him as their king. Thus David became king of a united country. His kingship prefigured the universal kingship of Christ. The Church chose this passage not to let us know of a historical event, how David became king, but to stress two important qualities of Christ the King: Firstly, that Jesus our King is “one of us.” We are “your flesh and blood.” Secondly, that Christ is king not of just two of the twelve tribes, not of one nation but of all mankind.
Charles Miller in ‘Sunday preaching’
Today’s gospel scene that proclaims the kingship of Jesus is, surprisingly, the crucifixion. Only on the cross is Jesus proclaimed king. There is high drama here, and a remarkable paradox. Those in authority jeer at the notion of the crucified Jesus being God’s Chosen One or the King of the Jews. It is in utter helplessness that Jesus is recognized as king. There could not be a better picture of the kind of king Jesus is than the one pictured in today’s gospel: Luke shows Jesus on the cross surrounded by various people – By Jewish leaders and soldiers who mock him, by thieves crucified on either side of him. Jesus is also surrounded by his friends and his mother who in sorrow watch him from a distance. On the cross Jesus showed the kind of king he would be: One who distributes his gifts generously. He gives and gives without counting the cost. On the cross Jesus showed himself as a king who saves: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” One of those crucified with him demands what he clearly regards as impossible –that Jesus saves himself and those with him. The other thief is the only one who adopts the attitude proper in the presence of a king -to make supplication. He is rewarded with a promise that consoles and strengthens believers down the ages. To be part of his kingdom we have to submit to His loving rule which leads to true freedom. Baptism introduced us to His kingdom; we must see that we are faithful citizens by following in His footsteps, working for the spread of his kingdom by leading loving lives in the service of his people.

Though crucified, Jesus was still king
During a cruel war, a commander took an oath in the presence of his troops that he would slaughter the entire population of a certain town, and in due course the bloodhounds of war were let loose on the defenceless people. Now it happened that a fugitive, seeking shelter, saw a sight which was indirectly the means of saving his life and the lives of others. He spied a number of soldiers as they broke into a house, the inmates of which they had put to the sword. On leaving they fastened up the place again and one of them dipping a cloth in a pool of blood, splashed it on the door as a token to any who might follow, of what had taken place. Quick as his feet could carry him, the fugitive sped away to a large house in the centre of the town where a number of his friends were concealed and breathlessly told them what he had seen. It at once flashed upon them how to act. A goat was in the yard. It was immediately killed and its blood splashed on the door, scarcely could they close the door again when a band of soldiers rushed into the street and began to slay right and left. But when they came to the blood marked door they made no attempt to enter. The sword –or so they thought- had already entered and performed its work in that house. Thus, while many around were put to death, all inside the blood sprinkled door were saved. -Do we find joy in serving a crucified Lord and King?
Gerard Fuller in ‘Stories for all Seasons’


Stumbling block or stepping stone
Once, two travelers were going through a forest when night came upon them. In a matter of minutes, the path they were following became invisible. In the darkness terror lurked everywhere. To make matters worse, a violent storm broke over the forest. Terrifying flashes of lightning were followed by loud peals of thunder that shook the ground under their feet. Torrents of rain poured down upon them. The trees swayed dangerously. The first man looked on the storm as a calamity. Every time there was a flash of lightning, he looked up at the sky and cursed. The result was that he strayed from the path and got lost in the forest. The second man looked on the storm as a blessing in disguise. Each flash of lightning lit up a bit of the path ahead of him and thus he was able to take a step forward. By keeping his head down he succeeded in staying on the path. And so, step by step he made his way out of the forest. Sometimes that’s the way it is in life, there is just enough light to take the next step, and just enough strength to do the present task. The thunderstorm was the exact same for both travelers. Yet for one it proved to be a stumbling block, while for the other it proved to be a stepping stone. – In today’s gospel one of the thieves cursed the darkness, the other saw a gleam of light through it. The light came from the person of Christ and he decided to appeal to Jesus. “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus moved with compassion said to him in that memorable reply that has brought hope to millions: “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’


Won’t you come down, King?
A king once fell in love with a poor girl. At first he thought of simply bringing her to the palace and marrying her, but he realized this wouldn’t work since she would soon realize the immense difference in their backgrounds and not be happy. After much reflection, he decided to renounce his kingdom and go and live near her so that she’d realize how deeply he loved her. Shocking one and all, he left the palace. This story –adapted from philosopher Kierkegaard’s original –somehow reveals to us the great love of our king Jesus Christ, who ‘comes down’ that we might be raised up.
Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’


The Compassionate King
In one of his homilies Fr. William Bausch gives us the following insight:  Jesus did not have a sceptre but he did have a towel.  He did not have people bowing backwards from his presence but he himself bowed instead and washed their feet. He had no army but He did have disciples. He sat on no throne but rather on a donkey’s back. He wore no crown of gold but of thorns.  He did not take life but gave it. He did not set boundaries but included prostitutes, tax collectors, foreigners and good thieves in his kingdom. He did not exploit people but spoke sympathetically of widow’s mites, prodigal sons, good Samaritans, and poor farmers. He did not wield the sword but mercy. He said: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus is a compassionate King. Shouldn’t we be compassionate?
John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

Living like an animal but dying like an angel
Mother Teresa told how one day in Calcutta she picked a man out of the gutter and brought him to the home for the dying. Before he died he said to her, “I have lived like an animal but dying like an angel, loved and cared for.” Mother Teresa remarked on the greatness of a man who could speak like that and who could die without blaming anyone or cursing anyone. She felt privileged to have been able to help him to live out his last hours feeling loved and cherished. Here is a man who had lived through a life of hell who had a luminous death.
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies’

If there is one thing that the world makes much of today it is power. We find that it motivates so many of our relationships. From the time we are children right through our youthful days, teenage, our life as young adults, till we grow as senior citizens, life is about taking control. We manipulate
others and influence them in subtle or overt ways. We want to have our say, we want others to notice us, to follow us, to listen to us and do as we tell them. However right through the Gospels Jesus has revealed to us that His values are different and today's feast once again emphasizes a totally
different type of lifestyle one that surrenders power and serves rather than dominates. May His Word and life challenge us!

This is the Gospel image of royalty totally different from what the world holds. His is a total reversal of roles usually assigned to royalty and servitude. He refuses to be master of the world, the mighty monarch, the spiller of blood. His reign subverts our notion of kingship. He is a king who serves others. He is the king who dies for others. He is the king who is ridiculed, scorned and mocked. "He saved other" they said "Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen one." Most insufferable, most repugnant of all, is the fact that he is a powerless sovereign. On the cross
he is not respected as a King but ridiculed by the soldiers. "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself" The crucified king is also the secret key to Christ's uniqueness, there is none other like him.

I have nothing more to give:
Some years ago divers located a 400-year-old sunken ship off the coast of Northern Ireland. Among the treasures they found on the ship was a man's wedding ring. When they cleaned it up, they noticed that it had an inscription on it. Etched on the wide band was a hand holding a heart. Under the etching were these words: "I have nothing more to give you." Of all the treasures found on that sunken ship, none moved the divers more than that ring and its beautiful inscription. The etching on that ring and its inscription "I have noting more to give" -could have been placed on the cross of Christ.
- Mark Link

"In celebrating Christ the King at the end of the church year, we force ourselves to remember the appalling fact of our salvation. Our hunger for being above the rest, our desire to dominate, which may well motivate our every action, is spurned by this king. Rene Girard, a professor of language
and culture at Stanford University, is a rare contemporary thinker who confronts the implications of the Christian faith. In his book 'Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World', Girard shows how Christ dismantles the triangle of desire, violence and retribution. In Christ there is no envy, greed, or lust for power. He, the innocent king who executes none, is executed. He seeks no vengeance. Christ the king is the only sovereign to embody such principles."
 - John Kavanaugh

Saved by the blood of the Lamb:
During a cruel and bloody war a commander took an oath in the presence of his troops that he would slaughter the entire population of a certain town, and during the course the bloodhounds of war were let loose on the defenseless people. Now it so happened that a fugitive seeking shelter, saw a sight, which was indirectly the means of saving both his own life and the lives of others. He spied a number of soldiers as they broke into a house, the inmates of which were put to the sword. On leaving it, they fastened up the place again, and one of them dipping a cloth in a pool of blood splashed it on the door as a token to any who might follow, of what had taken place inside.

As quickly as his feet could carry him, the poor fugitive sped away to a large house in the centre of the town where a large number of his friends were concealed, and breathlessly told them what he had seen. At once it flashed upon them how to act. A goat was in the yard. It was immediately killed, and its blood splashed upon the door. Scarcely could they close the door again when a band of soldiers rushed into the street and began to slay right and left. But when they came to the blood-marked door, they made no attempt to enter. The sword, so they thought, had already entered and performed its work in that house. Thus, while many around were put to death, all inside the blood-sprinkled door were saved.
  -Anthony P. Castle

Throughout the entire Gospel we have seen Jesus seeking out and saving the lost one: the lost coin, the lost sheep, the two lost sons, the woman of ill-repute who anointed him, the tax collectors, the Samaritans, and Sunday after Sunday our readings have reminded us of Jesus' mission to the lost
one. Now that Jesus has been lifted up on the cross as King, a further 'lost one' comes to life. Recognizing Jesus' innocence a criminal asks his new-found King: "Remember me when you come into your kingdom" and he is told "Today you will be with me in Paradise."

We all wish to be remembered and remembering is the foundation of any  relationship. We nourish our relationships through remembering. Remembrance  renews relationships between separated or absent friends. Without it there  is no hope. We are so grateful for being remembered and it is a blessing that we treasure and draw upon in darker moments. This is just as true of   human love and friendship as it is of our relationship with Jesus. Just as the good thief's prayer brought an instant guaranteed promise of everlasting friendship, today's gospel assures us of a similar outcome when we make this prayer our own. It can be in our hearts and on our lips every day of our life. It has the power to unite us to Jesus unceasingly, a prayer for sinner and saint.

Jesus, remember me in your kingdom!

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From Father Tony Kadavil’s Collection: 

1) Long live Christ the King! In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ["Long live Christ the King!"] They called themselves "Cristeros." The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey!" At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up "Padre Pro" or "Saint Miguel Pro" on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom)

 2) On His Majesty’s Service: Polycarp, the fifth century bishop of Smyrna, was arrested and brought before the Roman authorities. He was told if he cursed Christ, he would be released.  He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my King Jesus Christ Who saved me?"  The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt."  But Polycarp said, "You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly.  Do what you wish."   

3) The King of Kings is a silent film directed by Cecil B. De Mille in 1927.  It is a religious movie about the last weeks of Jesus on earth, with H. B. Warner starring as Jesus. It was a production acclaimed by world-famed scholars, the press and the public in the U. S.  and abroad, as the most ambitious presentation of the final years of the life of Jesus ever pictured on the screen. It was seen by over a billion people all over the world. De Mille claimed that the most important tribute to the movie he had ever received came from a woman who had only a few days to live. Her nurse wheeled her to a hall in the hospital to see the movie. After viewing the whole movie she wrote to the producer DeMille: “Thank you sir, thank you for your King of Kings. It has changed my expected death from a terror to a glorious anticipation.” She shared the feelings of the good thief who heard the promise of Jesus: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Both of them were suffering, both expected death and both received new hope from the dying King of kings for only He could give them what He promised because He was God, the King of kings and Lord of all. Today, as we celebrate the feast of Jesus, the King of kings, and as we re-enact His Calvary sacrifice on our altar, let us approach Him with repentant hearts and trusting Faith in His promise of eternal life. 

4) "Honey, take a long, long look": As the body of Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state for a few hours in Cleveland, Ohio, for mourners to pay their tribute, a black woman in the long queue lifted up her little son and said in a hushed voice: “Honey, take a long, long look. He died for us, to give us freedom from slavery.” Today’s Gospel gives us the same advice, presenting the crucifixion scene of Christ our King Who redeemed us from Satan’s slavery by His death on the cross.
5: Christ is in charge: Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son:     "Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: 'Thomas, who is in charge here?' Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you Mom.’ " 
6. Sleep-inducing sermon on Christ the King: "I hope you didn't take it personally, Father," an embarrassed woman said to her pastor after the Holy Mass, "when my husband walked out during your sermon on Christ the King."
"I did find it rather disconcerting," the pastor replied. "It's not a reflection on you, Father," she insisted.  "Ralph has been walking in his sleep ever since he was a child."

7: Co-pilot Christ the King: Many people love bumper sticker theology. Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make us think. One such, “God is my Co-pilot," has also been found on Church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder. In this case, the Church sign says, "If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats."

27- Additional anecdotes

1) "We have a King." About three centuries ago, Spaniards besieged a small French town, St. Quentin. The city walls were in ruins; fever and famine plagued the people. One day the Spaniards shot over the walls a shower of arrows to which were attached little slips of parchment promising that if they surrendered, their lives and property would be spared. The mayor of the town was a devout Huguenot. For answer, he tied a piece of parchment to a javelin and hurled it back to the Spaniards. On the parchment was the message: "Regem habemus" -- "We have a king!" Christians also can say, "We have a King." Jesus is our King. We belong to his Kingdom.
1b) Desperate deaths of autocratic Kings; Dictators: The death of Josef Stalin (1879-1953),  the Communist Dictator, was described by his daughter as difficult and terrible. Silenced by a stroke shortly before he died, Stalin’s “last words” were more visible than audible. Newsweek magazine quoted Svetlana Stalin who said, “At what seemed the very last moment, he cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane, angry and full of fear of death. With one final menacing gesture, he lifted his left hand as if he were bringing down a curse on us all.” Philip III of Spain (1578-1621) who proved himself an unfit king, indifferent to the plight of his people, breathed his last wishing, “Would to God that I had never reigned. What does all my glory profit, but that I have so much the more torment in my death?” Charles IX, who in 1572 had ordered the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots throughout France met death with despair, “What blood! What murders! I am lost forever. I know it.” When she lay dying, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) was said to have bargained, “All my possessions for a moment of time.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to compare Christ the King’s death on the cross, offering his life to God his Father in all serenity and elegance. (Patricia Datchuck S├ínchez)

2) Mother Teresa and Leo Tolstoy recognized the King in disguise: The story is told of Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), observing a novice using tweezers to pluck maggots from the leg of a dying leper. The young woman stood at arm's length to perform the odious task. Gently but firmly, Mother Teresa corrected her charge. Taking the tweezers and putting her face quite near the wound, she said, "You don't understand, my dear. This is the leg of Christ our Lord. For what you do to this man, you do to Him." Or again, Leo Tolstoy's story, "Martin the Cobbler," tells of a lonely shoemaker who is promised a visit by our Lord that very day. Eagerly all day he awaits his arrival. But all that come are a man in need of shoes, a young mother in need of food and shelter, a child in need of a friend, all of whom he helps. Martin the cobbler ends the day thinking, "Perhaps tomorrow He will come," only to hear a voice reply, "I did come to you today, Martin; not once, but three times." Christ is a King who goes about in disguise as the poor, the sick, the cripples, the tortured, the marginalized.
3) INRI: A Jewish boy was lazy in his studies and misbehaved in the public school. So his parents enrolled him in a Catholic school to see if he would improve.  His parents were surprised to observe that the boy stopped his excessive watching of TV, limited his time on computer games and spent most of his time in studies.  At the end of the year, he was the best student in class.  His baffled parents asked him what had happened.  "The first day I went to school," he explained, "and saw that man hanging on a plus sign at the main entrance of the school building, I knew you couldn't fool around here and get away with it.” Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Man on the cross is not an object to frighten naughty kids, but our God, our King and Savior Who died for us promising us eternal life, and Who will come in Glory to judge the world on the day of the Last Judgment.

4) Jesse Owens challenging Adolf Hitler: The black man standing in the arena was an affront to Der Fuehrer's authority. The scene was the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin, Germany. The black man was Jesse Owens of The Ohio State University representing the USA. He was aptly called "the fastest human alive." Der Fuehrer was Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who had recently risen to power championing an arrogant theory that his "Aryan race" of "supermen" would conquer the world. In implementing his theory, Hitler began systematically to stamp out the Jews in a bitter expression of prejudice and discrimination. Hitler also publicly denounced Blacks, Negroes as they were called then, as an inferior race. Jesse Owens, in his estimation, should not even be present at the Games. Jesse Owens was not only present, but he went on to win four gold medals in the 100-meter-dash, the 200-meter-dash, the broad jump and the 400-meter relay race. He demolished Hitler's claim that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Furthermore, this soft-spoken black athlete embarrassed Hitler and undermined his pompous authority in the heart of the Fatherland. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power like Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to Whom we give allegiance. We owe our allegiance to Christ the King who redeemed us by shedding His Blood to save us.

5) "Super Savior"-- A Church in Ohio did it with a large icon--a 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus with upraised arms, installed in a cornfield just north of Monroe, Ohio on Interstate 75. The statue--dubbed "Super Savior"-- was erected by the Solid Rock Church, in Middletown. Here is what is interesting. Traffic fatalities on this notorious stretch of road have dropped dramatically since the Super Savior statue was raised. Is that pure coincidence or has the Styrofoam and fiberglass Christ really aided road safety? Nobody knows. [Dr. John Bardsley. Source: National Catholic Reporter (10-28-2005), p. 3.] Certainly, a giant statue of Christ does no harm, and if it improves traffic, that's fine. But do not be confused. This is not the best way to express our allegiance to Christ. The best way to express our allegiance to Christ is to make our lives worthy of the name Christian.

6) Feast of Christ the King: In 1925, Pope Pius XI wanted people to know that this was Christ's world, not the property of the emerging dictators of that day. Mussolini had been in power for three years. Adolf Hitler had been out of jail only a year, and was finding great popular support for his fledgling Nazi party. The Pope had the courage of his convictions to declare, despite dictators, that Christ was King, reminding Christians where their ultimate loyalty lay! (From a sermon by Don Friesen, Ottawa Mennonite Church).

7) Unfinished work: A newspaper story some time back recorded the grim incident of a police officer shot and killed in the line of duty. His great desire before he was killed was to see his family's back yard completely landscaped, a desire he never saw fulfilled, because of the bullet that ended his life. Some of his fellow officers, who had grown to love their fallen comrade, donated their time and money to complete the work. Because it was the policeman's desire to finish the project it became his friends' desire. [Allen Hadidian, Discipleship (Chicago: Moody Press, 1987).]  The application to those of us who love Jesus Christ and accept Him as the King of our lives, is clear. What He loved and desired, we should love and desire and work to complete. His work is to see lost men saved and built up. His work is to see this world redeemed. His work is to see this unfinished world brought to completion. We who love Him are called to complete the task with His grace.

8) King of kings and Lord of lords. Listed in any history book among the greatest leaders that the world has ever known would be the name, Augustus Caesar. It was Augustus Caesar who fixed the limits of the Roman Empire. It was during his reign that the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome that lasted for over 200 years, was initiated. It was Augustus who ordered the building of roads linking the colonies of the great Empire and allowing rapid access to subordinate governments. It was he who gave Rome its constitution, creating the office of Emperor and investing in that office unlimited power, though he never used the title Emperor himself. The age of Augustus was a bright spot in literature and the arts. It was the era that gave the world Virgil, and the great historians. Augustus was truly a great ruler. Is it not ironic, then, that 2000 years after the reign of Augustus Caesar, he is mainly remembered because every year at Christmas time, we read these timeless words: "In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed" (Luke 2:1) Among those to be taxed, of course, were Mary and Joseph from Nazareth. Augustus Caesar would truly be shocked to realize that during his reign was born One who was far greater than he. He was the One Who had been anointed King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It was a minor official in the Roman Empire, Pontius Pilate, who first asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"  (John 18:33). Jesus obviously convinced him that he was. We often see engraved on crosses the letters INRI. They stand for Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews. St. Teresa of Avila, the 16th century Carmelite reformer, always referred to Jesus as "His Majesty," and so He is. After 2000 years, His stature has not diminished.

9) The forgiving King: Rev. Tony Campolo says that in his teenage years he was terrified by a visiting pastor's depiction of Judgment Day. This pastor claimed that one day God would show us a movie of every single sinful thought, word, or action we ever committed. And he ended his lurid description with the announcement, "And your mother will be there!" But Tony claims that Judgment Day will more closely mirror what happened during the trials over the Watergate scandal. The prosecutor brought in a tape of a conversation between Nixon and his aides. Just at the most crucial part of the tape, the section that revealed their crimes, there was an eighteen minute gap of silence. Nixon's faithful secretary, Rosemary Wood, had erased the incriminating evidence! In the same way, Campolo says, Jesus will erase all the incriminating evidence against us as he did for the repentant thief crucified at his right side. 

10) "You're with Him, go on in." A few years ago, Pastor Erwin Lutzer and his daughters were visiting Washington, D.C. While there, they met a man who served on former President Bush's Secret-Service security team. The gentleman offered to give them a guided tour of the Oval Office. Pastor Lutzer and his daughters passed through many security checkpoints the next day on the way to the Oval Office. At each checkpoint, they expected to be searched and questioned. But instead, the guards took one glance at the Secret-Service man and announced, "You are with him; go on in." Pastor Lutzer wrote that he expects our entrance into Heaven will be like that. We will have no credentials of our own that could possibly get us in. But Jesus will be walking along beside us. And at each gate, the angels will take one look at Jesus and announce, "You're with Him: go on in." [Erwin Lutzer, "Do Many Paths Lead into God's Presence?" Preaching Magazine March/April, 2001), p. 20.]

11) King Who conquered death: Worldly kings do not have this power. Their last enemy is death, which ends their power, wealth, and prestige. In Vienna there is a crypt under a Capuchin church. In this crypt are buried 140 Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses. Each sarcophagus is sculptured in steel. The largest is a double tomb for Maria Theresa and her husband. On each sarcophagus was carved a cross and the Royal crown. On each corner of one sarcophagus was a skull wearing a crown. The message was clear: Death was king! Even kings are conquered by death. But the King of God's realm lives in spite of death. And so we, as Christians belonging to Him, have no fear of death, for by the power of His cross, death was defeated for us all.
12) “Thy Kingdom come:” Those of us who live in the United States have no experience with royalty or with “Kingdoms” ruled by Kings or Queens. We have no Royal Family, so we have to invent our "Royalty." We had the “King of Rock’n’Roll,” Elvis Presley. We had the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. We had a “King of Soul,” James Brown. We have a "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. We have a “King of all Media,” Howard Stern. We have a "Queen of Clean," Linda Cobb. We even have a "King of Greasy Goodness” for the "Queen of Clean" to clean up: "Burger King"! But in countries like the Motherland, Great Britain, there is a real Royal Family. And the public can always keep track of where their Monarch is through an ancient tradition. When the ruling Monarch is in residence, the Royal Standard, the flag of the ruling Monarchy of the United Kingdom, flies above. When the Queen is at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the Royal standard flutters overhead. When she is NOT in residence, the Royal Standard is replaced by the Union Flag (the “Union Jack”). At her residences in Scotland, the Royal Standard flies above Holyrood Palace or Balmoral Castle when she is present. When she is absent from the grounds, the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland is hoisted. Long before there were reliable news sources, just one glance overhead would let the citizens of the kingdom know whether their Monarch was present, or where “the King was in the Kingdom.” Maybe it is our lack of any historical connection to a “Royal Residence” that makes us so clueless about the concept of the Kingdom of God when Jesus talks about it. We are not very educated in being a “Kingdom” or even in knowing what “Kingdom come” means.

13) The King of kings is here! The old Cardinal Hugh Latimer often used to preach before King Henry VIII. It was customary for the Court preacher to present the king with something on his birthday, and Cardinal Latimer presented Henry VIII  with a pocket handkerchief with this text in the corner -'Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge'; a very suitable text for King Henry. Then he preached very forcefully on the sins of lust, and did not forget the personal application to the King. And the King said that the next time -next Sunday, when the Cardinal preached he must apologize. The next Sunday, when the Cardinal stood in the pulpit, he thought to himself, "Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of England is here." At the same time a voice in his heart said, "Latimer, Latimer, be careful about what you say, the King of Kings is here." Strengthened by this, he preached what God wanted him to preach. -Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. We must enthrone Jesus as our King in our hearts and in our homes. (John Rose in John's Sunday Homilies).

14) Dismas House to serve the parolees with “royal priesthood” of Christ the King: The salvation of the 'good thief', later named Dismas in Christian thought, reminds me of those heroic people who have tried to bring hope and saving concern to criminals in our society. I remember especially Fr. Jack Hickey OP, a dynamic and charismatic chaplain at Vanderbilt University. Despite reservations from many quarters, but with help from dedicated lay partners, he founded "Dismas House.” Unlike the setup of other Dismas houses, recent parolees lived and worked with college students in the hope that mutual understanding and healing would take place. In the last years of his life, Jack fought virulent cancer and exercised his 'royal priesthood' from his personal cross, serving the parolees. Since his all-too-early death from cancer in January 1987, the movement has blossomed into ten such houses.  (John Donahue in Hearing the Word of God).

15) The real King? This happened a number of years ago when the late King Baudouin was reigning in Belgium. As the Constitutional Monarch, one of his duties was to "rubber stamp" all the bills passed by Parliament with his signature, thereby officially promulgating them as law. In 1990, the Belgian parliament passed a reprehensible bill that basically removed all legal sanctions against abortions. As a practicing and conscientious Catholic, King Baudouin objected to abortion vehemently, and so he could not and would not endorse the measure. But according to the Constitution, he did not have a choice - as figurehead Monarch, he had to ratify the bill, so by refusing to sign the bill into law, he was, in effect, attempting to veto the parliament, and putting his throne on the line! The parliament simply dethroned him for one day, promulgated the law on that day when there was no reigning monarch in Belgium, and then re-instated him on the next day. Granted, earthly Monarchs need Constitutional limitations to prevent the abuse of power.  But, that's not true for the Heavenly Monarch, the all-good, all-loving God, for any time we attempt to impede Christ's reign in our lives, we're just erecting an obstacle to the good that He could be in our lives.  Clearly then, there's false comfort and perilous perdition in that illusion of ultimate self-determination: if someone on the street swears at you and says, "Go to Hell!" sure, it's easy to invoke your autonomy then and shrug it off with the slur, "I'm free - I don't have to go anywhere I don't want to go!" Yet when the people who declare self-determination their highest law (and have thus pretended to enthrone themselves as the sovereign moral authority by dethroning Christ the King in their hearts), hear HIM solemnly speak those same words as the judgment of their eternal damnation, they will discover the absolute limits of personal freedom, limits constituted by the True and Almighty King of all creation. (John Ruscheinsky in Daily Online             Reflections').

16) Jesus Wins : George III of England, America's enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word "independence" without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned "Emperor of the New World." That's what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, "Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn't.  Jesus wins, Pilate loses.  (William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala)

17) Freedom Riders : Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the '50s and '60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King. When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail, the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep.  For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of Gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their Faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, "You can take our mattresses, but you can't take our souls!" The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious. Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King! [Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain -- Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, (CSS Publishing); quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala.]

18) Gandhi's Strength: In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed by following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness.  Jesus the King won freedom for mankind and won the hearts of mankind by his death on the cross. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala)

19) Man for All Seasons:   There is a great scene in the play A Man for All Seasons that fits so well here.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second in charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine since she was his sister-in-law and since she did not give birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a Pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asks the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replies with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different. And people know it.  That is why I need your support.”        In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject.  (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila)

20) St. Ignatius of AntiochThe patron of our parish, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was the second most powerful Christian in the Roman Empire, second only to the Bishop of Rome.  He had written letters to Christians to stand up for the faith in the face of persecution.  And then he, as a venerable old man, was arrested.  He was put on a ship that would eventually end up sending its cargo to Rome.  There he would be fed to the lions in the Coliseum.  Many early Christians could not bear the thought of losing Ignatius.  He was too important, too needed in the Church.  They plotted to raise money to bribe the sailors in one of the ports the ship would stop before reaching Rome.  They had plenty of time to do so, the trip would take two to three years.  Evidently, they also had plenty of money.  Wealthy Christians were determined to save Ignatius.  They just didn’t understand Ignatius’ integrity.  He was not going to buy his way out of a fate that he had encouraged others to have the courage to accept.  Nor was he going to use some sort of skillful legalese to save his skin. So, he walked into the Coliseum with the other Christians in control of the direction of his life.  He was a frail old man; yet, he was more powerful than the lions who would destroy him or the Romans who did not have the courage to stop the absurd spectacle.  Ignatius was a man of integrity.             Ignatius of Antioch and Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity.  The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie.  And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath. (Quoted by Fr. Tony Kaila)

21) “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”  St Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England.  What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII, decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and make himself head of the Church of England, More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the Divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the Faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of one’s heart and home; one must also confess him in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci; quoted by Fr. Tony Kayala).L/16

22) King with a difference: In the year 200AD Jingo, the Empress of Japan, invaded Korea. Following the defeat, the Korean king placed valuable treasures before the empress and promised to pay “homage and send tribute until the sun no longer rises in the East, but comes from the West; until the courses of the rivers turn backwards and the river pebbles ascend and become stars in Heaven”. When Queen Sheba visited King Solomon, she crossed the Sahara desert into Israel with more than 797 camels, donkeys and mules too numerous to count. She gave the king 120 talents of gold, very great store of spices and precious stones. The value of the gold alone, which she gave to King Solomon, was of great worth. (1 Kings 10:2-5) It was customary, in the ancient world, to place great treasures and gifts before the emperors and kings to please them.  
When the Magi heard about the birth of a king for the Jews they set out with royal offerings- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. After 33 years, the same king stood elevated on the cross with the inscription INRI, (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum - "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews") By placing this title Pilate had  made an involuntary, but historical proclamation  that Jesus is the King not only of the Jews but of the Universe.  Many a time such involuntary proclamations of Jesus’ Kingship are heard from unbelievers. The soldiers made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they put a royal purple robe on him, and shouted, "Hail! King of the Jews!"(John 19) Fr. Bobby Jose).

23) I have nothing more to give:  Some years ago divers located a 400-year-old sunken ship off the coast of
 Northern Ireland. Among the treasures they found on the ship was a man’s wedding ring. When they cleaned it up, they noticed that it had an inscription on it. Etched on the wide band was a hand holding a heart. Under the etching were these words: "I have nothing more to give you." Of all the treasures found on that sunken ship, none moved the divers more than that ring and its beautiful inscription. The etching on that ring and its inscription "I have nothing more to give" -could have been placed on the cross of Christ.  - Mark Link

24) Gandhi's Strength: In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness. Ckrist the King’s strength lies in his cross by which he redeemed the world. (Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace) .

25) St. Ignatius of Antioch: St. Ignatius of Antioch, was the second most powerful Christian in the Roman Empire, second only to the Bishop of Rome.  He had written letters to Christians to stand up for the faith in the face of persecution.  And then he, as a venerable old man, was arrested.  He was put on a ship that would eventually end up sending its cargo to Rome.  There he would be fed to the lions in the Colosseum.  Many early Christians could not bear the thought of losing Ignatius.  He was too important, too needed in the Church.  They plotted to raise money to bribe the sailors in one of the ports the ship would stop before reaching Rome.  They had plenty of time to do so, the trip would take two to three years.  Evidently they also had plenty of money.  Wealthy Christians were determined to save Ignatius.  They just didn’t understand Ignatius’ integrity.  He was not going to buy his way out of a fate that he had encouraged others to have the courage to accept.  Nor was he going to use some sort of skillful legalese to save his skin. So he walked into the Colosseum with the other Christians in control of the direction of his life.  He was a frail old man; yet, he was more powerful than the lions who would destroy him or the Romans who did not have the courage to stop the absurd spectacle.  Ignatius was a man of integrity.             Ignatius of Antioch and Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity.  The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie.  And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath. (Quioted by Fr. Kayala).

26) Brothers and Sisters of the King: Sometimes Americans wonder why the English bother with the monarchy, since the Queen is little more than a figurehead with no authority. Yet within most people there is a wish for a person whom we can look up to, someone who personifies dignity and wins our respect, a person who makes us feel better about ourselves. Many Americans found that kind of a person in the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States. He was young, handsome, intelligent and articulate. He was married to a beautiful woman who, it seemed to us, had become his Queen. The White House became known as Camelot. The United States had a family to whom many Americans attributed royalty. But on Friday Nov. 22, 1963 the dream was shattered with the President assassinated. The dream of Camelot was gone and the illusion of royalty was dimmed. All along we had been looking in the wrong direction towards the White House as if it were a palace. We should have been looking back to Calvary because the cross is truly the throne of Christ the King. We do not need an earthly sovereign to give us self-respect. Our King is truly royal. His kingdom is not an imaginary Camelot. It is an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice love and peace. Our King is Christ the Lord. Charles Miller in ‘Sunday preaching’(Quoted by Fr. Botelho)

27) Won’t you come down, King? A king once fell in love with a poor girl. At first he thought of simply bringing her to the palace and marrying her, but he realized this wouldn’t work since she would soon realize the immense difference in their backgrounds and not be happy. After much reflection, he decided to renounce his kingdom and go and live near her so that she’d realize how deeply he loved her. Shocking one and all, he left the palace. This story –adapted from philosopher Kierkegaard’s original –somehow reveals to us the great love of our king Jesus Christ, who ‘comes down’ that we might be raised up. Francis Gonsalves in ‘Sunday Seeds for Daily Deeds’ (Quoted by Fr. Botelho). 

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1. Background: 

 It is fascinating to compare the vision of Daniel with the image of Jesus before Pilate. In both the Lord of Creation is depicted in a moment of triumph. Daniel has no sense of the paradox of that Lord being treated like a common criminal. 
 There was of course no reason why he should, though the author of the section of Isaiah dimly saw that reality. At the heart of the paradox, however, is the insight that Jesus is the Lord of Creation, the king who triumphs, the leader whom we follow precisely because he suffers with and for us and goes down with us into the valley of death.   

That’s why He is not only the Lord of creation but Our Lord too.

A new boy moved into the neighborhood just before he football season began. He was a little guy, thin and scrawny and clumsy. He went out for the football team and made a fool out of himself against the big kids. The coach, who had a kind heart, did not cut him from the team. However, he came home from every practice bruised and battered. Most of the kids made fun of him at school. However, he would not quit. He was quiet but he was also stubborn. One of the girls, who knew more about football than any of the boys and even the coach, kept muttering that the new kid was really quick. Fastest boy on the team she told everyone. No one, however, listened to her.
 Finally there came the season opener against the “next parish down the road” which almost always won the historic contest between these old rivals (well, it went back to 1975). The next parish was bigger and always had better football teams. This year was no exception. They held our heroes scoreless and with only five minutes left in the game our guys were down thirteen to nothing. Knowing that they would never catch up, Coach sent in our little friend to play safety. On the next play, the quarterback for “next parish” through a pass which was tipped by one of our lineman. The little guy dashed across the field, intercepted it and scampered towards the goal line. See, said the girl, I told you. (Which is what a girl would say). The other team caught up with him as he crossed the goal line,  knocked him to the ground, and piled all over him.

 At first he lay flat on the ground, Then his face covered with mud, one of his eyes black, he staggered to his feet. The coach called a two point conversion. The quarterback, no dummy either, saw our runt standing dazed behind him – the coach had forgot to take him out – and threw him a lateral. Our guy ran through the opposing team like a knife cuts threw butter. Again they piled all over him in the end zone, but the refs didn’t call any penalty. He was carried off the field. After his team got the ball back with only thirty seconds to play, the coach took a deep breath and sent him back in. The QB through him a screen pass and  . .  . . . well, you know the rest. After the game he was hailed as the new leader of the team. Like one of the big kids said, he’s earned it. He’s learned how to take the worst and still win.

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2. “Who’s on first?”  

That was the opening line of a classic baseball sketch acted out in 1945 by the vaudeville comedy team of Abbott and Costello. The big joke was that the ball players’ last name were “Who” (first base), “What” (second base), “I Don’t Know” (third base), “Why” (left field), “Tomorrow” (pitcher) “Today” (catcher), etc. Any conversation about “Who was on first?” was a question that involved both identity and physical position. But for the person “in the know,” those who knew “Who” was the name of the first baseman, it was simply the affirmation of a fact. “Who” WAS, in fact, on first base.

Pontius Pilate, the local governor, a kind of “Chief of Police” for the Roman Empire in Jerusalem, was caught in a similar situation. The powerful members of the Sanhedrin (think your locally elected city council representatives) brought Pilate a prisoner, a man they accused of endangering Roman rule, by proclaiming himself to be some sort of ruler and so outside of Roman law. The Sanhedrin accused Jesus of proclaiming himself “King.” Politically that was treason — a flagrant flaunting of Caesar’s rights and rule. To declare himself “King of the Jews” not only disregarded the ruling power of Rome. It provided potential fodder for the local rebellion and even violent, militant reactions of the Jewish population in Jerusalem and beyond.

But in today’s text Jesus puts forth a “Who’s on first” kind of question to Pilate…
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3. What Pilate Believes

In the NIV, the first part of v. 37 is a declaration by Pilate: "You are a king, then!" In the NRSV (and my Greek text) it is a question: "So you are a king?"

 In some ways, this is another wrong question. Jesus turns it around: "You are saying that I am a king." With that statement is Jesus again putting Pilate on trial: "You have said it, but is it what you believe?" 

Here is a story that illustrates what is going on in this dialogue between Jesus and Pilate:

An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved, and whether he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior?

The gentleman replied, "Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here are the names of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I've been saved." 

Jesus could tell Pilate anything. What is important is what Pilate believes.

Brian Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes
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4. Ordinary People

 In the story of the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus we do not have a rascally, villainous cast of characters. We have ordinary soldiers, policemen, officials, priests, magistrates, and citizens - all doing what soldiers, police, officials, priests, and zealous citizens do every day. It is the usual "morality play," with a suspected criminal, arresting officers, prosecutors, a trial, and sentencing. With the exception of Jesus, none of the actors appear to be sterling characters. They are ordinary human beings, with a fair measure of hypocrisy and callousness. But each carries out with fidelity the role that society has assigned to him or her.

"The fundamental reason why Jesus has to die makes the question of responsibility for his assassination pointless. Every society, Jewish or Gentile, that is founded on money, power, and law, condemns him. He puts people first, making economics and politics less important than men and women. In contrast, society, even when it says the opposite, deceiving others as well as itself, considers individuals simply as a means." (Sulivan, Morning Light, p. 75)

John C. Purdy, God with a Human Face
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5. Part of the Ritual 

The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king's foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king's forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know. The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual."

I am here to tell you that your king was stabbed in the foot . . . and the hand, and the side and the head and that WAS part of the ritual. And, you and I are the ones who held the staff. I ask you. Will you beg the King's forgiveness?

Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com
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6. Jesus Wins 

George III of England, America's enemy in the Revolutionary War, felt terrible about the loss of the colonies. It was said, in fact, that for the rest of his life, he could not say the word "independence" without tripping over it. He was an odd duck in many ways, but he had good insights. When the fighting in America stopped, King George and all his royal cronies in Europe were sure that George Washington would have himself crowned "Emperor of the New World." That's what they would have done. When he was told, on the contrary, that Washington planned to surrender his military commission and return to farming at Mt. Vernon, George III said, "Well, if he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." There is power in giving up power, in emptying oneself. Jesus knew it, Pilate didn't.  

Jesus wins, Pilate loses.  

William R. Boyer, A Confusion of the Heart
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7. They Write Better Than They Know

 It is the accepted wisdom of priests and soldiers alike that one who possesses power always uses it for his own advantage. Why be a king if you cannot prove it by spectacular demonstrations of force and might? For Jesus these mocking words must bring back the echo of an earlier time when he is standing on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and hears the voice of the Tempter: "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here" (Luke 4:9). He resists such a temptation then, and resists it yet again. But the criminal evidently sees in Jesus' refusal to bend to the demands of his powerful tormentors an authority which is not compelled to prove itself. Is there a greater act of authority, courage, and dignity than to refuse to save oneself in order to save others? The criminal, with great effort, turns his head and looks again at the inscription on the central cross. "This is the King of the Jews." Perhaps he thinks, "They write better than they know." 

J. Will Ormond, Good News among the Rubble, CSS Publishing
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8. Prose 

What kind of a Kingdom has Jesus? No castle nor palace has he. No congress nor parliament sitting, deciding what laws there will be. Perhaps he has need of but two laws: Love God and your neighbor as well. To obey them is all that is needed, as all of the saintly can tell.

He has neither army nor navy, no air force to guard the frontiers to keep out the strangers unwanted and maintain the enemy’s fears. Immigration he seems to encourage, of some quite disreputable, like fishermen, publicans, sinners. To such he is hospitable. 

It seems there’s no revenue service or taxes we must calculate. He surely cannot run a kingdom on what we put into the plate! No 1040 form comes in April to fill out before the fifteenth, with penalties charged for nonpayment, beginning upon the sixteenth.

No currency’s here with his picture, no coinage engraved with his name. And where are the posters and slogans proclaiming his power and fame? And I see no trappings of kingship, no robes made of velvet and fur, no crown made of gold set with diamonds, to befit our supreme arbiter. 

Jesus said that his kingdom was really not what Pilate had thought it had been. It was not of this world. And its glory was not of the kind to be seen. For those of us here in his kingdom, there is one other thing we have known: of the kingdoms around in his lifetime, it’s the only one left with a throne.

Andrew Daughters, The Kingdom of Jesus, CSS Publishing.
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9. Freedom Riders 

Recently I heard someone tell a story about the experiences of the Freedom Riders in the American South during the '50s and '60s and their struggle for civil rights. The story was a vivid illustration of how life changes when Jesus has the last word, when Jesus is King.

When the Freedom Riders traveled through the South staging their sit-ins and marches and protests, they were often arrested and jailed. The guardians of racial segregation and the status quo were not going to let them have the last word. While in jail the Freedom Riders were often treated poorly and brutally in order to break their spirits. They were deprived of food or given lousy food. Noise was blasted and lights were flashed all day and night to keep them from resting. Sometimes even some of their mattresses were removed in order that all would not have a place to sleep.

 For a while it seemed to work. Their spirits were drained and discouraged, but never broken. It happened more than once and in more than one jail. Eventually the jail would begin to rock and swing to sounds of gospel singing. What began as a few weak voices would grow into a thundering and defiant chorus. The Freedom Riders would sing of their faith and their freedom. Sometimes they would even press their remaining mattresses out of their cells between the bars as they shouted, "You can take our mattresses, but you can't take our souls!" 

The Freedom Riders were behind bars in jail, but they were really free. They were supposed to be guilty, but they were really innocent. They were supposedly suffering, but they were actually having a great time. They were supposedly defeated but they were actually victorious.

Why? They may not have said it, but they could have: because Jesus has the last word, because Christ is King! 

Steven E. Albertin, Against the Grain -- Words for a Politically Incorrect Church, CSS Publishing
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10. Gandhi's Strength 

In the published diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous Nazi Propagandist, there are two or three references to Mahatma Gandhi. Goebbels believed that Gandhi was a fool and a fanatic. If Gandhi had the sense to organize militarily, Goebbels thought, he might hope to win the freedom of India. He was certain that Gandhi couldn’t succeed following a path of non-resistance and peaceful revolution. Yet as history played itself out, India peacefully won her independence while the Nazi military machine was destroyed. What Goebbels regarded as weakness actually turned out to be strength. What he thought of as strength turned out to be weakness.  

Kevin M. Pleas, Sufficient Grace
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11. King and Kingdom 

Ironically, it is not so much the priestly or prophetic aspect of the work of Christ which John highlights in his narrative of the crucifixion. Rather it is the kingly role of Christ as the dying Savior which dominates John's account of our Lord's final hours.

 I say ironic because John's gospel does not feature the kingdom of God; nor does he focus upon Christ's claim to be the coming king—until chapter 18. Whereas Matthew, Mark and Luke from the very beginning of their gospels describe Jesus proclaiming the imminence of the kingdom of heaven—the miracles of Christ as signs of the kingdom breaking-in to history—the parables (which are completely absent from John's gospel)—as parables of the kingdom, John only mentions the words "king" and "kingdom" six times prior to chapter 18…
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12. Man for All Seasons:

            There is a great scene in the play A Man for All Seasons that fits so well here.  You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the faith against the persuasion and eventually persecution of Henry VIII of England. In the scene I’m referring to, Henry VIII is trying to coax his second in charge, Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine since she was his sister-in-law and since she did not give birth to a male heir to the Kingdom.  After the King made all his arguments, Thomas More said that he himself was unfit to meddle in this argument and the King should take it to Rome.  Henry VIII retorted that he didn’t need a pope to tell him what he could or couldn’t do.  Then we come to the center point.  Thomas More asks the King, “Why do you need my support?”  Henry VIII replies with words we would all love to hear said about each of us, “Because, Thomas, you are honest.  And what is more to the point, you are known to be honest.  There are plenty in the Kingdom who support me, but some do so only out of fear and others only out of what they can get for their support.  But you are different. And people know it.  That is why I need your support.”

            In the presence of integrity, Henry VIII knew who was King and who was subject. 
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13.   St. Ignatius of Antioch   

            The patron of our parish, St. Ignatius of Antioch, was the second most powerful Christian in the Roman Empire, second only to the Bishop of Rome.  He had written letters to Christians to stand up for the faith in the face of persecution.  And then he, as a venerable old man, was arrested.  He was put on a ship that would eventually end up sending its cargo to Rome.  There he would be fed to the lions in the Colosseum.  Many early Christians could not bear the thought of losing Ignatius.  He was too important, too needed in the Church.  They plotted to raise money to bribe the sailors in one of the ports the ship would stop before reaching Rome.  They had plenty of time to do so, the trip would take two to three years.  Evidently they also had  plenty of money.  Wealthy Christians were determined to save Ignatius.  They just didn’t understand Ignatius’ integrity.  He was not going to buy his way out of a fate that he had encouraged others to have the courage to accept.  Nor was he going to use  some sort of skillful legalese to save his skin. So he walked into the Colosseum with the other Christians in control of the direction of his life.  He was a frail old man; yet, he was more powerful than the lions who would destroy him or the Romans who did not have the courage to stop the absurd spectacle.  Ignatius was a man of integrity.

Ignatius of Antioch and Thomas More and so many others followed Jesus Christ in being people of integrity.  The powerful Pilate could have Jesus tortured and killed, and he did, but Pilate himself remained a prisoner because he lived a lie.  And Jesus remained a King because he testified to the truth to his last breath.
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 14. Long live Christ the King!

In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and it tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!" They called themselves "Cristeros." The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey" “Long live Christ the King!” At that moment the soldiers fired. The journalists took pictures; if you look up "Padre Pro" or "Saint Miguel Pro" on the Internet, you can see that picture. (Fr. Phil Bloom).
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15. “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”  

St Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians. He was a brilliant lawyer and diplomat in 16th century England. His patriotism and loyalty to the throne attracted the attention of King Henry VIII who made him Lord Chancellor of England.  What Henry VIII did not know was that Thomas More’s first loyalty was to Christ, the King of kings. When Henry VIII, decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, marry Anne Boleyn, and make himself head of the Church of England, More thought this was not right. Rather than approve what he believed to be against the divine will, he resigned from his prestigious and wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, More was arrested, convicted of treason, imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 and beheaded in July of the following year. On his way to public execution, More encouraged the people to remain steadfast in the faith. His last recorded words were: “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.” For More, it was not simply enough to confess Christ privately in the safety of one’s heart and home; one must also confess him in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci).

16.  On His Majesty’s Service:  

Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released.  He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king Jesus Christ who saved me?"  The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change your mind, I will have you burnt."  But Polycarp said, "You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched; for you are ignorant of the judgment to come and of everlasting punishment reserved for the ungodly.  Do what you wish."   (L/12)
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17. Christ is in charge:  

Susan C. Kimber, in a book called Christian Woman, shares a funny piece of advice she received from her little son: "Tired of struggling with my strong-willed little son, Thomas, I looked him in the eye and asked a question I felt sure would bring him in line: 'Thomas, who is in charge here?'  Not missing a beat, he replied, ‘Jesus is, and not you mom.’ " 
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18.  Co-pilot Christ the king:  

Many people love bumper sticker theology.  Bumper stickers may not always have the soundest theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think.  One such, “God is my Co-pilot," has also been found on church signs, where the theology is just as much fun and sometimes sounder.  In this case, the Church sign says, "If Christ the King is your Co-Pilot, change seats."