YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING
HOMILY THEME: “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.” (John 18:36)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
In today’s gospel passage, we find Jesus in heated dialog with Pilate. Jesus says, “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.” (John 18:36)
And if Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, then surely neither is ours. Yet how often do we find our tightly held values proclaiming otherwise. Today’s Feast of Christ the King invites us to examine the health of our hearts, to realign our values, to proclaim, like Jesus, that our kingdom, our home, is not here on earth. Let a story of unknown authorship illustrate such a change of heart:
“A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection from Raphael to Picasso, and they would often sit together and admire the masterpieces. When the Vietnam War broke out, the son enlisted. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. When the father was notified, he grieved deeply for his only son.
“About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood before the grieving father with a large package in his hands. He said, ‘Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and killed him instantly. He often talked about you and your love for art.’ The young man held out a package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really much of an artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’
“Opening the package, the father discovered a portrait of his son painted by the young man the son had saved. Staring in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting, the father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man profusely and offered to pay him for the picture. ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’
“The father hung the portrait over his mantle, and whenever visitors came to his home, he took them first to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. “There was to be a great auction of his paintings, and many influential people gathered, excited over the opportunity to purchase a masterpiece for their collection. On the auctioneer’s platform the painting of the son was prominently displayed. Pounding his gavel, the auctioneer began, ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’ There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’ But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’ Another voice angrily cried, ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!’ But still the auctioneer continued, ‘Who’ll bid on the painting of the son?’
“Finally a voice came from the very back of the room; it was the longtime gardener of the estate, much loved by the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting.’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. ‘We have $10; who will bid $20?’ ‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masterworks.’ ‘$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?’ The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel. ‘Going once, twice, sold for $10!’ A man sitting in the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’ “The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’ ‘What about the great paintings?’ ‘I’m sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings by the great masters. The man who took the son gets everything!’” (Original source unknown)
The one who took the son got everything. Jesus, Son of God, offers himself to us as he begs, “Take me, follow me, come home with me.”
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