21Nov Sunday, November 21 2021, Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

(1) Daniel (7:13-14)

Glorious vision of the Son of Man

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Responsorial: from Psalm 93

R./: The Lord is our king, robed in majesty

The Lord is king, he is robed in splendour;
He us robed and girded with strength. (R./)

The Lord has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O Lord. (R./)

Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore. (R./)

(2) Revelation 1:5-8

The firstborn of the dead will be ruler of the kings of the earth

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, is the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel: John 18:33-37

Pilate questions Jesus about kingship

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”


Whoever belongs to the Truth

Is the notion of kingship of any value to us, as democrats and republicans? Democracy, with all its complexities, is our preferred form of regulating society, business, law and order. Except in figurative phrases like “king of the road,” words like royalty and kingship, implying an absolute demand for respect and subservience, evoke a bygone structure of  inherited privilege and power. The so-called “divine right of kings” sustained this structure and favoured the suppression of individual rights. So if kingship is an unsuitable image for our times, how do we explain today’s feast, celebrating Christ as our king?

Does he demand our service and submission? Would he suppress our right to self-expression and all other rights? When faced by Pontius Pilate, Jesus says clearly what kind of king he is. He tells the Roman Governor, “My kingdom is not of this world.” His rule is far removed from a dictatorship. This noble prisoner, robed in purple and crowned with thorns as a mock king before this ruthless Roman judge, claims a spiritual authority that has nothing to do with the power to compel by force. His authority is the authority of truth. He is our king, with authentic authority, because he lives the truth and has the power to lead others to the truth — the truth that can save them to eternal life: “for this I was born and came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice” (John 18:37.)

Christ lived by the truth and he died for it. His true followers continue to commit their lives and even risk their all for loyalty to him. In him the Son of the Eternal God, who reveals the Father of life and truth, millions find the inspiration for their lives, the truth which makes them free. His life and teaching give us the clearest kind of truth.

The truth of Christ blends word and action, in perfect harmony. Truth was vitally important to him, who hated all sham and pretence. To get deeper in touch with the truth demands our attention and maybe some change in our lifestyle. It needs periods of quiet, even spending some time with him in personal prayer. Truth cannot really mark our lives without the inspiration which comes from Christ its source. It has to flow from prayer to life, and back into prayer again. A new commitment to the truth can give us a new vision of life. And far from oppressing us, Christ the King of truth will be the one to set us free.

To get deeper in touch with the truth demands our attention and maybe some change in our lifestyle. It needs periods of quiet, even spending some time with him in personal prayer. Truth cannot really mark our lives without the inspiration which comes from Christ its source. It has to flow from prayer to life, and back into prayer again. A new commitment to the truth can give us a new vision of life. And far from oppressing us, Christ the King of truth will be the one to set us free.


Two standards of judgement

A random act of kindness, a glass of water given out of goodness, seems like a very low threshold for a personal friendship with Christ. Christians have always had a strong trust in Christ’s humanity; he was like us in every way except that he did not sin. Although this Sunday portrays him returning in regal splendour, the judgments of Jesus are not like ours either. He seeks good among the ordinary and the bad alike; too often we seek bad among the ordinary and the good alike. For Jesus, the sinner who does a single act in kindness can be saved. For the rest of us, the saint that does something wrong is tarnished forever.

His hands stretched out in forgiveness to those who had nailed them down. Ours stretch out to point in criticism at the wrongdoer. But we have a dominant image of what a judge is like and how a judge should act. It is not surprising that the image of Jesus as a fair but stern judge is deeply set with many Christians. There are even some who delight in the idea of bad people getting their just deserts.

Just as Jesus told the soldiers arresting him that his kingdom was not of this world; his standard of judgment is not of this world either. That should be good news, although not everybody sees it that way.

“Vengeance is mine,” said the Lord. Traditionally Christ has been represented as coming in majesty and power. From Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the mosaics in many a church apse, that image is prominent in western art.  It is familiar because it is like what we do in every way, except that we don’t forgive. The classic picture includes tormented souls being dragged off to eternal flames.. It is likely that almost all of us have an idea of some of the people who should be in that category.

In the 1970s musical Godspell, Stephen Schwartz recreated that judgment scene. Only, this time, Jesus has second thoughts and brings the damned along too. They had sung a song asking for mercy and they received it. That is an image which is very much in keeping with the words of Christ the King: “Judge not and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

He brings a different kind of rule, a rule where boundless mercy trumps self-righteous justice. (Fergal Mac Eoinin)


King of Justice, Love and Peace

Paul speaks of Jesus Christ at the end of time handing over the kingdom to God the Father. Today’s Preface repeats this, describing Christ’s kingdom as one of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice. love and peace. This ideal is not to be merely a future hope but is to be worked for in the present. The kingdom is our hope, but somehow it is also in our midst, in the process of becoming. The gospel tells us how we are to promote the fuller coming of God’s kingdom among us. It comes whenever justice is done for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the oppressed. To behave in this way is to imitate the Shepherd-King himself who is presented in our Gospels as one who rescues from situations of alienation, who feeds, gives rest, heals and makes strong. Among his final words was a promise to the thief being crucified at his side, that he would be enfolded by the eternal love of God, in paradise.

The best way to honour Christ our King is to work to make his kingdom a reality among us. Anything we do for the relief of the deprived and underprivileged is also a service to Christ, because he identifies himself personally with people in need. The disciple of Christ the King cannot afford the luxury of comfortably keeping myself to myself or “Well I do harm to anyone.” To be deaf to the cries of the neighbour in need is to close our ears to Christ. To be blind to the anguish of the dying is to shut our eyes to him. If we follow Jesus Christ as our Shepherd-king we must in some way be shepherds ourselves, for his sake.


2 Responses

  1. Thara Benedicta

    Key Message:
    Homily:
    The takeaway from the first reading:

    The ordination of Christ our King is detailed in today’s first reading. God our loving Father crowned our Lord Jesus Christ as our King. Our Lord Jesus battled with the crown of thorns, whips, cross, and nails against the devil and defeated him. He won the victory on the cross and is now seated on the throne.
    Let us see a few occurrences that happened when God our Almighty Father ordained our Lord Jesus as our King:
    1. God our loving Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ as our King forever and ever
    2. Christ the King is seated at the right hand of God forever
    3. Christ the King was given dominion over all the people, nations, and languages
    4. Christ the King was given the name above all the names – Mark:16,17-18
    a. Cure sickness using the name of Jesus
    b. Drive out demons using the name of Jesus
    5. Christ is the King of Heaven and the entire universe.
    Our Lord Jesus Christ is already seated on the throne!! Always let us look up to His throne, not moan alone.

    The takeaway from the second reading:
    The second reading confirms that our Lord Jesus Christ freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom.
    So when we plead for forgiveness, our Lord Jesus Christ cleanses us with His blood. We will wear the white robe of righteousness, the robe to be worn in God’s kingdom. Our faith and repentance for our sins gain us entry into God’s kingdom, through the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The takeaway from Gospel reading:
    The feast of ‘Christ the King’ symbolizes the victory of our Lord Jesus in the war against sin and Satan on the cross and taking the throne. That is why, before beginning His battle with the cross, Pilate asks about the kingship of our Lord Jesus. He wore the crown of thorns for our sins and our God Almighty crowned Him as the King of Heaven and earth. He hung on the cross here but God Almighty seated Him in His right hand. His hands were nailed to the cross, but as the King, His hands carry the sceptre of God. He was crucified as a Lamb here, now seated as the Lion of Judah!!
    Where is the‘Kingdom of God’?
    Once a teacher asked in the Catechism class, what is meant by ‘Kingdom of God’? One child replied, it is present in the Bible; another child replied ‘The Kingdom of God is another name for Heaven because there Jesus is King’.
    Jesus answers in a different way – “The kingdom of God is within you”. (Luke 17-21)
    When Christ the King dwells within us, His kingdom is also present within us. Similar to the throne of our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, we also have a throne for Jesus Christ in our hearts too. Simply put, it’s nothing but experiencing the presence of God within our hearts.

    Saints have expressed this in different ways:
    Little Therèsé of the Child Jesus says, “My heart is so big; It can be only filled by God”. She experienced the fullness in her heart only when she experienced the feeling of God residing in there.
    St. Teresa of Avila says, “My soul at once becomes recollected and I enter the state of quiet or that of rapture so that I can use none of my faculties and senses…Everything is stilled, and the soul is left in a state of great quiet and deep satisfaction.”

    These experiences are not only for the saints, but they are for us too. We also feel inner peace, joy, and refreshment when immersing ourselves in the Sunday Masses or in a retreat, or in any place of prayer. The worship songs, peaceful music, listening to the word of God all help us to experience the presence of God.

    The beauty of the ‘Kingdom of God’:

    1. Treasure beyond all treasures:
    Our Lord Jesus uses two parables to explain.
    a. Parable of the hidden treasure
    The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. – Matthew 13:44.
    b. Parable of the pearl
    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:45-46

    Once we realise that earth will pass away and that our everlasting abode will be God and His Heaven, we will do our best to find God and do His will on earth. Everything else will be secondary.

    2. The spreading nature of the kingdom of God:
    Our Lord Jesus again uses the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast to explain that the ‘Kingdom of God’ will keep growing. The truth that Jesus Christ is the only true God is being testified by all nations now. Though Christians are a minority in some nations and they are not able to tell openly about their faith in our Lord Jesus, they have true faith in their hearts. Any rule or law will not be able to stop spreading the good news.

    3. Separation of the ‘Kingdom of God’ and the ‘Kingdom of the devil’:
    In the world, people who belong to God’s kingdom and the devil’s kingdom co-exist. God’s people do God’s word and the devil’s people follow the devil’s word. But at the end of time, the people belonging to God’s kingdom will be taken into Heaven, and the people belonging to the devil will be cast into hell along with the devil.
    Jesus explains this with the parables of the weeds and the net.

    Challenges in seeking God’s kingdom:
    Our Lord Jesus details the challenges faced by a soul who hears God’s word and its responses, with the parable of the sower.

    1. When we do not understand the word of God, the devil will make us easily forget it. Reading the Bible without understanding the depth of the verses is an example of this. We need to correlate how we need to apply it to our life when we listen or read the word of God.

    2. When we are confronted with the storms of life, if we do not look at Jesus for help and instead worry about where we are now and how we are going to lead the rest of our life, then we will simply continue worrying. We will forget the promises in the Word of God – ‘I will never forsake you; Fear not little one; for the Father has pleased to give you the kingdom’ – here the kingdom is the solution to our problem. If we have disobedient children, then the kingdom is obedient children. If we do not have a job, then it is a job.

    3. When we are focused on the accumulation of wealth or gaining fame only, then we will not be able to focus on God’s kingdom and on His wealth. We need to work and earn money for our living, but it should not be our only goal in life. Anyway, all the lands or mansions we acquire on earth will not be in our name or useful for us when we enter Heaven. If there is no place or no mansion in Heaven then what is the use of owning a place or mansion on earth? Jesus gave money miraculously from the mouth of the fish when the Apostle Peter had to pay taxes. Did Jesus leave Peter alone to find his own way? This same Jesus is still awake and well present to cater to our needs also.

    4. When we think and meditate on the word of God, speak according to the word of God and be doers of the word of God, then we will be fruitful. The percentage of our fruitfulness depends on the inner drive strength we possess. When we have our goal to love God and serve Him alone, Jesus will shower His blessings according to His riches, not according to our needs.

    How to seek the ‘Kingdom of God’?
    1. When we start our day by spending time at the feet of our Lord Jesus, we actually seek the kingdom of God.
    2. Any time of prayer or reflection, especially when we meditate on the passion of Christ reciting the Divine Mercy chaplet or the Rosary, we enter the kingdom of God.
    3. Whenever our heart lifts up to God, even in the midst of earthly duties, we seek the ‘Kingdom of God’.
    4. Thinking the right thoughts – ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.’ – Philippians – 4:8
    5. Doing the Word of God – ‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.’ Philippians 4:9
    6. We should look up to God instead of the problem and not worry about the problem.

    Blessings in the ‘Kingdom of God’:
    1. Our names will be written in the ‘Book of Life’. (Philippians 4:2)

    2. We will not be hopeless because of our problems. We will have a feeling that our Lord Jesus Christ is with us, He will take care of us, hence no need to worry. ‘The peace that transcends all understanding will fill our hearts’ – Philippians 4:7. We will wonder – ‘Why with so many challenges I am still leaving a fulfilled life; why am I still enjoying peace in my heart?’

    3. When we start seeking God, we will have an expectation that God will make all our problems pass by – we will not have any problems. But the problems or challenges are allowed by God so that we can be trained. A Diamond is formed only under pressure. Likewise, we will be transformed only when we undergo challenges in our lives. These challenges themselves are a blessing for us. While Jesus had to undergo His training for the ministry in the desert for 40 days, what about us?

    4. If we have a disabled child or a sick child or a grouchy spouse or any sick person or any kind of lifelong challenge, that is a great blessing. Our Lord Jesus says – ‘Whatsoever you do, to the least of my brothers that you do unto me’. The least of the brothers of Jesus are our own family people who are challenging to take care of or to live with. We sing the hymn in our churches, not realising that the current challenge is actually making us worthy of listening to these sweet words from our Saviour.

    5. We can enjoy the promises of our Lord Jesus by speaking the Word of God in the name of our Lord Jesus. When Ezekiel spoke the word of God to dry bones, the dry bones came to life and marched as an army. Likewise use the Word of God to bless your family, ministry, or any of your needs. If your children are not obedient or are not walking in close contact with Lord, then claim the promise – “Lord, You have said that your children will be taught by the Lord. So I know that You will teach my child”. As our Lord Jesus crucified all the powers of Satan, curses, sickness on the cross, we will have power over all of them. As children of God, let us speak His words and claim our victory!!

    6. God’s word also says that there will be a rewarding ceremony. Will we feel good when we enter Heaven empty-handed? We should not think that the Blood of Jesus Christ will clean us from our sins and we can enter Heaven. We will feel there that we should have utilised our time on earth and done something for God instead of wasting time on unnecessary work. It is our beautiful opportunity to work for God now. Let us do our best!!

    Nothing is worth having if we do not have a place in the ‘Kingdom of God’!!

  2. Paddy Ferry

    Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

    I have been bothered by the title of this feast day for years, the Feast Day of Christ the King, the Solemnity of Christ the King, infact.

    Today, as I was reading at evening Mass in our parish, I had reason to think about it a bit more deeply.

    Do we really believe that this is how Jesus would want us to remember him?
    I don’t think so.

    This, after all, was the gentle prophet from the peasant village of Nazareth who came to bring the good news to the poor and, among the things, to set the downtrodden free.

    On the Mount of Beatitudes he makes the declaration, again, among others, that the poor in spirit are blessed.

    That peasant procession on Psalm Sunday with Jesus leading on a donkey down the Mount of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem in Mark’s gospel and it’s brilliant contrast with the Roman Imperialist procession coming in from the west of the city with Pontius Pilate leading columns of imperial cavalry and soldiers would suggest that Jesus would be unhappy with the type of regal title and power today’s feast suggests.

    I wonder how long this teaching/doctrine –if indeed that is what it is –has been part of our tradition. And, is it only a Catholic teaching or is it shared by all the major Christian denominations?

    Also, I wonder what was the motivation for proclaiming Christ as King.
    Was it an attempt by our institutional Church to offer a clock of respectability to those who were secular kings and rulers?

    A final thought. I have attended Psalm Sunday liturgies all my life and listened to all the relevant readings and homilies on those readings.

    Yet, no one ever mentioned, as far as I know, the crucial contrast between those two processions on Psalm Sunday which, ultimately, was the crucial conflict of that week which ultimately led to Jesus’ death.

    Why was that? Or, maybe I just missed it!

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