34th Sunday of Year B

FR TONY'S HOMILYHOMILY ANECDOTESRCIA LESSONSFAITH FORMATION LESSONS
ROME REPORTS (2:29) – Rome has more obelisks than any other city in the world. There are thirteen of these tall monuments that help make up the history of ancient Rome. One of the most well known, stands in the middle of St. Peter’s Square, measuring 82 feet tall and weighing 320 tons.
8-MINUTE HOMILY

Christ the King Sunday

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This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. Instituting this Feast of Christ, the King in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ). This means that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to Him every day, accept Him as our God, Savior and King and allow Him to rule our lives.

Why Christ is our King:

1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and, hence, wields a supreme power over all things; “All things were created through Him“;
2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession;
3) Christ is Head of the Church, “holding in all things the primacy”;
4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion.

BIBLICAL BASIS OF THE FEAST

OLD TESTAMENT

a) In the Annunciation, recorded in Lk 1:32-33, we read: “…and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there will be no end.” In fact, the Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ teaching, and the phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs in the Gospels 122 times, of which 90 instances are uses by Jesus.

b) The Magi from the Far East came to Jerusalem and asked the question: (Mt 2:2) “Where is the Baby born to be the King of the Jews? We saw His star… and we have come to worship Him.”

c) During the royal reception given to Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Jews shouted: (Lk 19:38) “God bless the King, Who comes in the name of the Lord.” 

d) During the trial of Jesus described in today’s Gospel, Pilate asked the question:( “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Jn 18:33) Jesus replied: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth” (Jn:18:37)

e) The signboard hung over Jesus’ head on the cross read: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.”

f) Before his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus declared: “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me; go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations … (Mt 28:18ff).” 

g) Finally, in Matthew 25:31, we read that Christ the King will come in glory to judge us on the day of the Last Judgment.

NEW TESTAMENT

When the bi-partisan 9/11 commission members made their final report to Congress, they began their report with these words. “September 11, was a day of unp

Homily Starter Anecdote

The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. 
OPTION A: I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.

I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.

St. Thomas More is the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, among others. 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, wealthy position as Lord Chancellor and lived a life of poverty. Since he would not give his support to the king, Thomas 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 his heart and home; he believed one must also confess Christ in one’s business and professional life as well as in the laws and policies that govern society. (Fr. Munacci).

OPTION B: The Judgment Day

“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!” (“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).

OPTION C: Scientists on the End of the World

The Vatican Obelisk

In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. About four and half thousand years old, it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. It was bought to Rome by the dreaded Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of the equally dreaded Circus of Nero, on Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw.

On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times, there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross however, the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them is in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme.

The other inscription is, “The Lion of Judah has conquered.” So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane)


In St Peter’s Square in Rome, there stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a single block of granite in the shape of the Washington monument, almost 100 feet high and weighing 330 tons. It is the oldest obelisk in Rome, dating from about 1850 BC. At that time it had been erected as a monument to the Pharaoh, and it watched over two thousand years of Egyptian history – the longest reigning empire in history. It stood there when Abraham was called, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt, when Moses led his people out of Egypt. At the time of Christ, soon after the Magi came to worship him, the Roman Emperor Caligula brought it to Rome as a sign of Rome’s superiority as conqueror of Egypt. There it stood for four more centuries, a symbol of the Roman Empire, the largest empire in human history. A golden urn with Julius Caesar’s ashes was placed on it. It stood in the arena where St Peter himself was martyred, along with hundreds of other early Christians. Then the barbarians invaded Rome, and in the Middle Ages it fell. Ivy grew around it. It was half-buried near the old Basilica. But the Church converted the barbarians, and when a new Christian culture emerged and flourished, and St. Peter’s Basilica was rebuilt and expanded, Pope Sixtus V had the obelisk re-erected in the center of the plaza. No longer is it a reminder of the long-perished empires of Egypt, Rome and the barbarian hoards. Now it is topped with a bronze cross, and inside that bronze cross is a small fragment of the true cross, the cross on which Christ, conquering his Kingdom, was crucified. Now it serves the universal Kingdom that will have no end, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. (E- Priest).

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Intro to Readings

This Thirty-Fourth and final Sunday in Ordinary Time ends the Church’s liturgical year and the Cycle B Sundays. For this culminating Feast of Christ the King, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all His glory. The first reading, taken from the book of Daniel, tells of the mysterious Son of Man (with whom Jesus would later identify Himself), coming on the clouds, glorified by God, and given dominion that will last forever. The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 93), has us proclaim, “The Lord is KingHe is robed in majesty,” celebrating the God of Israel as the King over all creation. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, the risen Christ comes amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts before Pilate that He is a king and clarifies that that his kingdom “does not belong to this world.” He rules as King by serving others rather than by dominating them; His authority is rooted in Truth, not in physical force, and His Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the Beatitudes.

First Reading Remarks

Today’s selection from Daniel expresses well the Jewish understanding of the Kingship of God and that of the Promised Messiah.

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Additional insights on the First Reading from Fr. Tony

The apocalyptic Book of Daniel came to prominence during a bitter persecution of the Jews in the second century BC, when it bolstered the Faith of the beleaguered chosen people of God. The book rises from the sixth century BC, during the Captivity of the Jews in Babylon (the Exile). Today’s selection from Daniel expresses well the Jewish understanding of the Kingship of God and that of the Promised Messiah. It describes the mysterious “Son of Man” (with whom Jesus would later identify Himself), as coming on the clouds, glorified by God and given the dominion that will last forever. In his vision, Daniel saw God seated on a Throne, with millions of people serving Him. Into His presence there came a human figure, “one like a Son of Man,” to whom were given (v.14) “dominion and glory and kingship, that all should serve Him… His kingship is one which shall never be destroyed.” He would be the King of kings and the Lord of Glory and His Kingdom would last forever. The New Testament proves that Jesus is this long-awaited King of the Jews.


Second Reading Summary

The New Testament Book of Revelation has the same apocalyptic character as the Book of Daniel, although that element is not very evident in today’s short selection.  Its readers were being persecuted, and the Lord God Who gave John this vision wanted to bolster their Faith.  To the description of Jesus given here, we can apply what was said above about the Son of Man and His commission from the Ancient One.

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Additional insights on the Second Reading from Fr. Tony

The New Testament Book of Revelation has the same apocalyptic character as the Book of Daniel, although that element is not very evident in today’s short selection.  Its readers were being persecuted, and the Lord God Who gave John this vision wanted to bolster their Faith.  To the description of Jesus given here, we can apply what was said above about the Son of Man and His commission from the Ancient One.  Today’s reading from the Book of Revelation also explains how the risen Christ will come amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things.  In its apocalyptic style, the Book of Revelation describes how Jesus has become our King by freeing us from our sins by His Blood (and so from the ruler of darkness), and by blessing all of us to be priests for His God and Father — all because our King loves us.  Today’s reading concludes by stating that Christ the King is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, that is, the A and the Z, the beginning and the end [ end = both termination of and purpose for] of our lives and of all life.  Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the alphabet in Greek, the original language of this book.  Giving Jesus the Alpha title reminds us of the first theme John’s Gospel that Jesus is the Word of God, pre-existing with the Father before all creation.  To call Jesus the Omega is to say that our King will be in charge at the end of the world.  The four passages refer to the supreme Kingship of Christ who founded a Kingdom for us, where He has made us priests dedicated to the service of God His Father.  He will come a second time to judge all men.


Gospel Summary

Today’s Gospel presents the first part of the trial conducted by Pilate who questions Jesus about His Kingship.  In the dialogue with Pilate, Jesus implies that Pilate does not understand the spiritual or transcendent nature of Jesus’ kingship (“My Kingdom does not belong to this world”).  Jesus admits that He is a King but declares that His Kingdom is not of this world.

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Additional insights on the Gospel from Fr. Tony

Jesus’ clarification of His Kingship before Pilate during His trial: The Jews accused Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God, and they wanted Him to die by the most shameful and painful death, Roman execution.  Hence, they brought Jesus before Pilate the Roman governor and accused Jesus of causing sedition against the Roman Empire and Caesar.  “We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a King” (Lk 23:2).  Today’s Gospel presents the first part of the trial conducted by Pilate who questions Jesus about His Kingship.  In the dialogue with Pilate, Jesus implies that Pilate does not understand the spiritual or transcendent nature of Jesus’ kingship (“My Kingdom does not belong to this world”).  Jesus admits that He is a King but declares that His Kingdom is not of this world.  Neither Jesus’ present nor future reign operates according to the world’s criteria of power and dominance.  Jesus’ Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the beatitudes, and Jesus rules through loving service rather than through domination.  His authority is rooted in Truth, not in physical force.  Jesus gives His purpose for coming into the world as: to bear witness to the Truth about a larger and eternal Kingdom,  about God and His love, about us, and about whom we are called to be.


What is the Kingdom of God? What is the Kingdom of Christ the King? Here is a beautiful explanation given by Gerald Darring (St. Louis University: Center for Liturgy): “The Kingdom of God is a space. It exists in every home where parents and children love each other. It exists in every region and country that cares for its weak and vulnerable. It exists in every parish that reaches out to the needy. The Kingdom of God is a time. It happens whenever someone feeds a hungry person, or shelters a homeless person, or shows care to a neglected person. It happens whenever we overturn an unjust law, or correct an injustice, or avert a war. It happens whenever people join in the struggle to overcome poverty, to erase ignorance, to pass on the Faith. The Kingdom of God is in the past (in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth); it is in the present (in the work of the Church and in the efforts of many others to create a world of goodness and justice); it is in the future (reaching its completion in the age to come). The Kingdom of God is a condition. Its symptoms are love, justice, and peace. Jesus Christ is king! We pray today that God may free all the world to rejoice in His peace, to glory in His justice, to live in His love.”

Life messages

We need to accept and surrender our lives to Christ the King as our Lord, King, and Savior

We surrender our lives to Jesus every day when we give priority to all Jesus taught in our daily choices, especially in making moral decisions. We should not exclude Christ our King from any area of our personal or family lives. In other words, Christ must be in full charge of our lives, and we must give Christ sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart, and our will.


We need to be serving disciples of a serving King

Jesus declared, “…whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:27-28), and later showed us the spirit of service by washing of the feet of the apostles. We become Jesus’ followers when we recognize Jesus, present in everyone, especially the poor, the sick, the outcast, and the marginalized in society and render humble and loving service to Jesus in each of them.


We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love

Jesus came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us a “new commandment” of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus loves each of us, unconditionally, sacrificially, and with agape love.

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1) We need to assess our commitment to Christ the King today.  As we celebrate the Kingship of Christ today, let us remember the truth that Jesus is not our King if we do not listen to, love, serve, and follow where Jesus  leads.  We belong to Christ’s Kingdom only when we try to walk with Christ, when we try to live our lives fully in the spirit of the Gospel, and when that Gospel spirit penetrates every facet of our living.  If Christ is really King of my life, Jesus must be King of every part of my life, and I must let Christ reign in all parts of my life.  We become Christ the King’s subjects when we sincerely respond to Jesus’ loving invitation: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart (Matthew 11:29).  By cultivating in our lives the gentle and humble mind of Christ, we show others that Jesus Christ is in indeed our King and that He is in charge of our lives.

2) We need to give Jesus control over our lives.  Today’s Feast of Christ the King reminds us of the great truth that Christ must be in charge of our lives, that we must give Jesus sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart, and our will.  In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in Christ’s Kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”  Let us ask ourselves the question, “What does Jesus, my King, want me to do or say in this situation?”  Are we praying each day that our King will give us the right words to say to the people we meet that day, words that will make us true ambassadors of Jesus?  Does our home life as well as the way we conduct ourselves with our friends come under the Kingship of Jesus?  Or do we try to please ourselves rather than please Jesus?

3) We need to follow Christ the King’s lesson of humble service to the truth. Christ has come to serve and to be of service to others.  Hence, we are called to Christ’s Own service – service to the Truth.  In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus saying, “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth” (Jn 18:33).  The Truth to which Jesus bears witness by His Life and teaches us is that God, His Father, is also our loving and forgiving Father, so we are all His children, forming one Body.  Hence, whatever we do for His children, our sisters and brothers, we do for our King.  For we are called to be a people who reach out to embrace the enemy and the stranger, a people called to glory in diversity, a people called to offer endless forgiveness, a people called to  reach out in compassion to the poor and to the marginalized sectors of our society, a people called to support one another in prayer, a people called to realize that we are called not to be served, but to serve.  In other words, servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has given us. “For the Christian, ‘to reign is to serve Him,’ particularly when serving ‘the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder’” (CCC  #786).

4) We need to obey the law of love of Christ the King.  Citizens of Christ’s kingdom are expected to observe only one major law–the law of love.  “Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”  Jesus expects a higher degree of love from His followers: “Love one another as I have loved you.”  On this great Feast of Christ the King, let us resolve to give Jesus, our King, the central place in our lives , living the obedient loving, generous service Jesus commands, sharing what we have with all our needy brothers and sisters. .

End of homily

Jokes of the Week

At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS. 

CHOOSE ONE

#1: 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.’ ”

#2: 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.”

# 3: “Right near the end!” Once a priest was giving a homily and as he went on, he became more animated. He made a sweeping gesture – and accidentally knocked his papers from the pulpit. He scrambled to pick them up, then asked, “Now, where was I?” A voice from the congregation responded, “Right near the end!” Well, we are at the end – not of the homily, but of the liturgical year

# 4: The most famous man who ever livedOne day a kindergarten teacher nun said to the class of 5-year-olds, “I’ll give $2 to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.” An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick. “The teacher said, “Sorry Sean, that’s not correct.” Then a Scottish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Andrew.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Hamish, that’s not right either. “Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Marvin, come up here and I’ll give you the $2.” As the teacher was giving Marvin his money, she said, “You know Marvin, you being Jewish, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.” Marvin replied, “Yeah. In my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business…”

Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week. Since Fr. Tony is retiring from parish duties, he has started a personal website: https://frtonyshomilies.com/ where he has started putting his Sunday and weekday homilies, RCIA lessons, Faith Formation articles and other useful items for pastors and pastoral assistants. Fr. Tony warmly invites priests and deacons and the public to visit his website and use it for their preaching and teaching ministries. He welcomes your corrections, modifications and suggestions to improve the homilies and articles given in this website.

A Man for All Seasons

There is a great scene in the play, A Man for All Seasons, that fits very well with today’s Feast of Christ the King.

You might remember that the play was about the determination of St. Thomas More to stand for the Faith against the persuasion and eventually the persecution of Henry VIII of England.

In the scene I’m referring to, in Henry VIII , in 1527, is trying to coax his second-in-power Thomas More, to agree with him that it is proper for him, the King, to divorce his wife Catherine on the grounds that she was also his sister-in-law (a marriage impediment for which the King, before the marriage, had requested and received , in January 1505), a Papal Dispensation, from  then-reigning  Pope Julius II!) The King’s real reason was that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, had not given 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 asked the King, “Why do you need my support?”

Henry VIII replied 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.


Tolstoy’s “Martin the Cobbler”

A lonely shoemaker 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, and a child in need of a friend, all of which he cheerfully assists. 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.”


“I shall be that soldier”

Sportsman and best-selling author Pat Williams, in his book The Paradox of Power, tells about one man who deserved to bear the name Christian.

In fact, that was his name — Christian X – who was King of Denmark during World War II. The people of Denmark remember him the way any of us would want to be remembered, as a person of character, courage, and principle.

Every morning, King Christian rode without bodyguards in an open carriage through the streets of Copenhagen. He trusted his people and wanted them to feel free to come up to him, greet him, and shake his hand.

In 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark. Like so many other European nations, this small Scandinavian country was quickly conquered. But the spirit of the Danish people and their king proved unquenchable. Even after the Nazis had taken control of the nation, King Christian X continued his morning carriage rides. He boldly led his people in a quiet but courageous resistance movement.

On one occasion, the king noticed a Nazi flag flying over a public building in Copenhagen. He went to the German Kommandant and asked that the flag be removed.

“The flag flies,” the Kommandant replied, “because I ordered it flown.

Request denied.” “I demand that it come down,” said the king. “If you do not have it removed, a Danish soldier will go and remove it.”

“Then he will be shot,” said the Kommandant. “I don’t think so,” said King Christian, “for I shall be that soldier.” The flag was removed.


Jesse Owens crushing Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy theory

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 U.S.A. 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, he 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.

Today is Christ the King Sunday in the liturgical calendar, an appropriate time for us to grapple with the whole question of authority. We may not be in danger of being seduced by an evil power such as Hitler, but we may not be clear on the authority to whom we give allegiance.


In the Line of Fire

Dr. Gary Nicolosi compares God’s love to the 1993 hit film, In the Line of Fire. Clint Eastwood plays Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan.

Horrigan had protected the life of the President for more than three decades, but he was haunted by the memory of what had happened thirty years before.

Horrigan was a young agent assigned to President Kennedy on that fateful November day in Dallas in 1963. When the assassin fired, Horrigan froze in shock. For thirty years afterward, he wrestled with the ultimate question for a Secret Service agent: Can I take a bullet for the President?

In the climax of the movie, Horrigan does what he had been unable to do earlier: he throws himself into the path of an assassin’s bullet to save the President. Secret Service agents are willing to do such a thing because they believe the President is so valuable to our country that he is worth dying for.

At Calvary the situation was reversed, says Dr. Nicolosi. The President of the Universe actually took a bullet for each of us. At the cross we see how valuable we are to God.


What King is Jesus?

Bishop Villegas in his book entitled Jesus In My Heart said that Jesus is king of hearts in every Christian.

To explain this contention, Villegas used the image of a deck of cards which carries four images of kings.

The first image is the king of clubs. A club is an extension of a violent hand. A club is an extension of a hostile man. Christ cannot be king of clubs because Jesus is not here to sow violence. Jesus is not here to sow hostility. Jesus is here as a king of peace. Jesus is here, gentle and humble of heart, not to sow enmity among us. Jesus is here so that all may be brothers and sisters to one another.

Bishop Villegas continued that Jesus could not be king of spades. A spade is used to throw dirt. Jesus is not here to make our lives dirty. Jesus is here to cleanse us from everything that defiles us. Jesus is not the king of spades because Jesus is not in the grave. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus is not king of spades because the business of Jesus is not to make other people dirty, to make people look at the grave dug by spades. The business of Jesus is to give hope and purity to us.

Jesus cannot be king of diamonds for he came to bless our poverty. Jesus came to bless our pains and our aches. Jesus is not here to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Jesus is here to give meaning and purpose to our crosses and pains and trials.

Jesus can only be king of hearts. This is the kind of king that Jesus is. He is the king of the universe because he is the king of hearts. (Fr. T.S. Benitez).


Thorvaldsen’s “Christus”

A wonderful statue of Jesus the Christ exists in the cathedral of Denmark’s fairy-tale city of Copenhagen.

The sculptor was the master Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen who died in 1844. He chose to sculpt a monumental Christ, the Christus, that would reveal Him in all His majesty.

His hands would be raised as befitted His awesome power. His face would look out regally on everyone and everything. He would indeed be the King of kings, the Man in total control. It was done. “Jesus is the greatest figure in human history,” the sculptor said when the clay model was finished, “and this statue will so represent Him.”

However, a funny thing happened on the way to the unveiling. The statue was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with the clay Christ statue. The upraised hands had drooped. They no longer commanded. Rather, they beseeched. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the Master’s chest.

The person who wore this face had known many problems and was compassion itself. This was no longer a King before whom one would grovel and stutter, “Your Royal Majesty.” Rather, it was a Shepherd solicitous for every one of His sheep.

At first, Thorvaldsen was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally conceived. Indeed, it might have been providentially planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “FOLLOW MY COMMANDS” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that was no longer appropriate. Instead he chiseled the softer message “COME UNTO ME.”

To this day, this benign Nazarene touches the hearts and spirits of those who enter the Copenhagen cathedral. It is reported that often Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece reduces spectators to tears. In most probability, it has more of a genuine effect on them than his majestic Christ ever would have. The statue reminds them of His famous words to a puzzled Pontius Pilate in today’s Gospel, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Father James Gilhooley).


Freedom Riders in the American South

The Freedom Riders in the American South during the ’50s and ’60s  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. Kayala).

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