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Our Lord, Christ the King

Luke 23: 35-43

When Christ died on the cross Pontius Pilate wrote this inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” For a crown He was given not jewels but thorns; for royal purple, His blood; for a sceptre, a nail; for a throne, a cross. The Chief Priests objected to the title Pilate had written because Jesus was no King of theirs. They would never dream of giving Him allegiance.

Today we keep the feast of Christ the King when we are proud to hail Jesus as our King. Christ is so different from all earthly royalty. The kings we read about in our history books often won their kingdoms by going to battle and killing the rulers of other lands. It is more rare to read about kings who were wise and kind to their subjects like Saint Edward, the King of England, who built Westminster Abbey and Saint Louis, King of France. And sadly many were tyrants, exacting heavy taxes and living in luxury while their subjects lived in poverty. Christ differs from all these earthly kings – and His Kingdom will never end.

Christ did not win His Kingdom on a battlefield but through shedding His blood on the Cross. His enemy was not another king, but Satan and sin itself. Though Christ died in the struggle He was the victor - not Satan nor sin. After His victory He did not become a tyrant, but the kindest King to His subjects that could ever be imagined. The Preface of today’s Mass describes His Kingdom: it is a “Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.” The most remarkable thing of all this is that death was not the end of Christ’s Kingship but the beginning of it.

Although Christ has already won the battle for His Kingdom, there are so many who fail to recognise and accept Him as their King. Why is it that the justice, love and peace of His Kingdom are not in great evidence in today's world? The reason is that people have free will and they choose sin rather than allegiance to Christ. Despite the victory of Christ, Satan and sin still have power and a grip in the world.

In recent months, both in Paris and Mali we witnessed our world becoming a more dangerous place. These terrorist events seem to be totally unpredictable and therefore impossible to prevent without introducing draconian security measures which would compromise the liberties and freedom that any civilized society enjoys. We should definitely pray more … and yet I cannot see how the hearts and minds of such a barbaric group as the so-called Islamic State can be changed. Would it even be possible to negotiate with such fanatics?

Amidst all this trouble people ask where is Christ our King? Is He not supposed to rule our world? Christ has fought and won the decisive battle against sin and evil and yet evil seems to be winning. One thing we can be certain of is that the Islamic State will not last forever. Where are the followers of Hitler? Where are the followers of Stalin?
They have come and gone.

We are the soldiers of Christ. Let us fight strenuously for the day when the reign of Satan’s kingdom will be completely vanquished and the reign of Christ the King will be supreme. At the end of the world when Christ comes in glory His Kingdom of love and peace will reign supreme and the kingdom of Satan and sin will be at an end.

I consider the luckiest man in the world to have been Dismas, the repentant thief who dies next to Christ. He had the assurance on what was his death bed that he would be with Jesus in His kingdom the day he died. Jesus on His throne on the Cross was a human wreck, but still Dismas recognised Him as a king. “Lord, remember me, when you come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus in great pain turned to him and said, “I promise you this very day you will be with Me in paradise.” Just one appeal of love was enough to blot out a lifetime of sin. We should pray often to Dismas for the grace to hear, on the day of our death, those happy words from the lips of Jesus, “I promise you this very day you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Lord Jesus, on this feast of Christ the King, let us renew our vow of allegiance to You our King. Let us assure You that we shall persevere in fighting Your cause against Satan and sin until the day You will come again in all Your glory and take full possession of Your eternal and universal Kingdom.

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