HOMILY FOR THE THIRTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING.
HOMILY THEME: CHRIST OUR KING
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Christ the King! Christ is king of our hearts and of our lives. Many of us today no longer think of actual kings but we can still understand the idea of a king. We should think of the struggle in the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, when the Jewish people decided to ask for a king on this earth, rather than just staying with their covenant with God.
Christ the King as a solemnity is about our covenant with God. Perhaps we don’t often think that we have a covenant with God. Often we only think of our Jewish ancestors and their covenants with the Lord God. But our Scripture are called the New Testament and they refer to the New Covenant with the Lord God. The point where we made that covenant is our baptism: we were baptized into Christ and into the New Covenant with Him.
The first reading today comes from the Prophet Ezekiel and speaks of God as shepherd: “The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy, shepherding them rightly.” Always the strong words of the Old Testament cause dismay for people today. The Prophet Ezekiel, speaking in the name of God, tells us” “the sleek and the strong I will destroy.” This is not about God wanting to get rid of some of us. Rather it is the destruction of a person so that the person can be reformed in God’s image. The sleek and the strong live in illusion because the only strength in this life is Jesus the Lord. The illusions need to be destroyed so that the sleek and the strong can form with God the same covenant as all the others. We must rely on God. None of us is strong in himself or herself.
The second reading comes from the First Letter to the Corinthians and speaks about the true goal of life is living in Christ and sharing the Resurrection of Christ. In the end, everything will according to the will of God and living according to God’s plans. So why do we have freedom? So that we can freely give ourselves to the Lord and to the following of the Lord’s ways. God is so patient with us and so willing to keep working with us, even when that work means destroying the parts of us that resist His will and His plans for us.
Today’s Gospel is from Saint Matthew and tells us that the way that we treat others is the way that we treat Jesus Christ Himself. We know that intellectually but oftentimes pay no attention to it in our daily lives. We are challenged to see Christ in each other person, especially those who most irritate us and cause us negative feelings and reactions. That is why Jesus always tells us to love our enemies. It is easy to love our friends.
So if Christ is our King, then we need to live our Covenant with Him. We need to walk humbly in His ways and to trust in loving others that we ourselves will know God’s love in our lives. This solemnity is not just about looking to God as our King or looking to Christ as our God-King. No, it is about our Covenant with our God and King and a deep commitment to live as He wants us to live: loving all because we love Him.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico