Sunday of 34th Week of Ordinary C--The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Justice, Love and Peace

Joke: Christ the King fan: A second grade teacher tells her class she's a big “Cowboys” fan. She's really excited about it and asks the kids if they're Cowboys fans too. Everyone wants to impress the teacher and says they're Cowboys fans too, except one kid, named Josh. The teacher looks at Josh and says, "Josh, you're not a Cowboys fan?" He says, "Nope, I’m a Christ the King fan!" She says, “I have never heard of a professional football team by that name! Well, why are you a ‘Christ the King’ fan, and not a Cowboys fan?" Josh says, "Well, my mom is a Christ the King fan, and my dad is a Christ the King fan, so I'm a Christ the King fan." The teacher's not real happy. She's a little hot under the collar. She says, "Well, if your mom were an idiot, and your dad were a moron, then what would you be?" Josh says, "Then I'd be a Cowboys fan!"

Today, the Church solemnly celebrates the Feast of Christ, the King of the Universe to conclude the end of the liturgical year. In this celebration, the Church chooses the Gospel reading for this celebration from the scene of crucifixion of the Lord Jesus on the cross with two criminals. Why does the Church choose this Gospel reading for the feast of Christ the King? What does it mean to be a king? Is the king powerful in words and in deeds? Has the king had power and right in all things? Perhaps, the king is a powerful in words and in deeds. He has a right to say and to do whatever he wants. However, the Gospel reading is chosen for this celebration is totally different and opposite to the definition of a king, at least the earthly king on this planet. The words on the cross of Jesus INRI, abbreviation in Latin for “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum” meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” How can Christ be the King of the Jews hanging on the cross with two criminals? This is out of our human understanding. Make no mistake when prophet Isaiah said in his writing that for God’s thoughts are not human’s thoughts, nor our ways his ways (Is 55:8).

In today’s first reading, Prophet Samuel reported the scene that all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron to anoint him the King of Israel. What does it mean to be a king for David? King is the one who holds power including having many wives in his kingship. A famous story of King David with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, a General of King David. Bible told us that King David on one evening, he “rose from his bed and strolled about on the roof of the king’s house. From the roof he saw a woman bathing; she was very beautiful” (2 Sam 11:2). He enquired about her and took her to bed when she was just purified after her period. When he learned that she’s pregnant, he sent words to Uriah, his General, to come back home from the battle field. When the king asked him to go home, he refused and stayed in the King’s courtyard with other servants to guard and to protect the King. The King then invited him for a special reception to get him drunk then sent him home with his wife. Once again, Uriah refused to go home and stayed in the court yard of the King’s house. King David finally sent him back to battle field with a message to put him in the front line of the battle. He died in this battle field, and King David to his wife Bathsheba to himself.

As a king, David could have any woman he pleased at that time in that culture, but why did he do this to his General Uriah? From his wicket evil deed, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to King David. Nathan said to David, “Tell me how you judge this case: In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. Of what little he had she ate; from his own cup she drank; in his bosom she slept; she was like a daughter to him. Now, a visitor came to the rich man, but he spared his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him: he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David grew angry and said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves death! He shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb because he has done this and was unsparing.” Then Nathan said to David: “You are the man! Why have you despised the Lord and done what is evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword; his wife you took as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives before your very eyes, and will give them to your neighbor: he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have acted in secret, but I will do this in the presence of all Israel, in the presence of the sun itself” (2 Sam 12:1-12). David repented saying, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin. You shall not die, but since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.” The Lord struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David, and it became desperately ill and died after seven days. In justice, King David repented his wicked deeds, and the Lord forgave him.

In today’s Gospel, the rulers of the Jews had no sense of repentance saying to Jesus hanging on the cross, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” It’s rightly so, if you could save others, save yourself. Even the soldiers said, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Not only them, but one of criminals hanging on the cross with Jesus said, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The King of the universe was on the cross. What if Jesus came down from that cross to save himself, who would save the human race? He came for the sake of our salvation, and if he came down from that cross to save himself, who would save mankind? Unlike this criminal, the other criminal crucified w/ him recognized his wrong doing & said, “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” There was no justice for those, including one of the criminals, who crucified on the cross, but his death on the cross did bring justice, peace, and love for all those who repented and had a true conversion of heart. When one of the criminals hanging on the cross with him requested Jesus saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus was touched with his true conversion of heart and responded, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

We all have a past, but there is always a moment of presence that we are all invited to have a true conversion of heart to taste the Paradise today. Have you and I had courage and strength to let go our past and have a true conversion of heart? If we haven’t had enough courage and strength to let go our past: The past of the sins of the eyes, the sins of the lustful thoughts, the sins of the flesh, the sins of pride, the sins of cheating and lying, the sins of disobedience to our parents, teachers, and those authorities over us, and many other sins. To lift our sinful nature to the holiness of God, to his paradise, Jesus, though he was in the form of God did not regard equality with God. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8). What have we done to deserve this? Christ is the King of the Universe, is there anything to do with us from his kingship? The Jews and many people are not recognized him as the King of the Universe, have you and I recognized him as the King of the Universe? Would you and I recognize him as the King in theory, concept, in words or in deeds? Decision is yours.

 

Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen


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