Curated preaching illustrations and anecdotes from Fr. Tony Kadavil. NEW! Now with videos; Also includes Fr. Tony’s commentary, and Children illustrations/object sermons.
34th Sunday of Year B
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.
Christ the King Sunday
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.
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.
Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.
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 King; He 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
#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 lived: One 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).
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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