Sunday: Christ the King. Date: November 24, 2013. Year: C The readings: [2 Sam. 5:1-3; Col. 1:12-20; Lk. 23:35-43] The message: Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry. Total words: 2129
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My brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, marks the closing of Year C of the Liturgical Calendar. This special Feast reminds us that over and above being the universal King, Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church. His Divine reign stretches out from the alpha of time to the omega. There is no other true King, for God is One.
Today's First Reading from the Second Book of Samuel [2 Sam. 5:1-3] spoke of the elders anointing David as the king of Israel. This was the second time that David had been anointed as king. In 2 Samuel, verse 2:4, we read that David was anointed as king over the house of Judah.
In a way, king David was an image of things to come. At the same time, we must keep in mind that there was two distinct differences. Both Jesus and king David were anointed as kings. [2 Sam. 2:4, 5:3; Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-40; Jn. 12:12-9] Both Jesus and king David ruled over a twofold kingdom. King David ruled over Judah and Israel. Christ the King rules over a twofold kingdom, His Kingdom in Heaven to which belongs all the saints who have departed from this world and the Kingdom on earth to which belongs all those who have been baptized.
Both king David and the Lord Jesus were shepherds. The Almighty Father who chose David to shepherd His people Israel [2 Sam. 5:2] is the same God who chose Christ the King as the Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep. [Jn. 10:11]
The first distinct difference between the kingdoms of David versus the Kingdoms of Christ the King are:
(1) While David ruled over a twofold kingdom, they remained as distinct entities.
(2) Christ the King rules over a twofold Kingdom that is called the Mystical Body of Christ. In this age, the two Kingdoms of Christ are growing together to form One Body. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, the believer is admitted into the Kingdom of Christ on earth as a first step towards admission into the eternal Kingdom of God in Heaven.
The second distinct difference between the kingdoms of David versus the Kingdoms of Christ the King are:
(1) Both kingdoms of kingdom David were physical in nature.
(2) Both Kingdoms of Christ are spiritual in nature. Regarding the Heavenly Kingdom, Jesus said, "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." [Jn. 18:36] Regarding the earthly spiritual Kingdom, Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the Kingdom of God is among (within) you." [Lk. 17:20-1] The Kingdom of God is within us because it is spiritual in nature.
While keeping in mind that the Kingdoms of Christ are spiritual in nature, it can be argued that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, being part of the Mystical Body of Christ, is physical in nature. Although this cannot be denied, it must be remembered that the visible Church is a reflection of the invisible Body of Christ. "It is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual." [1 Cor. 15:46]
To be born again of the spiritual nature in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must first be born of the physical nature. "No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5] What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." [Jn. 3:6] Once born of the Spirit, the believer can "worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." [Jn. 4:23-4] It is no wonder that The Letter to the Hebrews states, "We had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?" [Heb. 12:9]
Finally, from the First Reading, we notice that in the Old Testament, there is a situation where the government of the two states, Judah and Israel, are joined together in the person of David. In the New Testament, we find a situation where the earthly and heavenly spiritual Kingdoms are united in the Person of Christ the King.
The Second Reading from The Letter of Paul to the Colossians [Col. 1:12-20] began by telling us to "Give thanks to the Father, who has enabled (us) to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light." [Col. 1:12] As Christians who are united in the Body of Christ the King, we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. [1 Pet. 2:9]
The Heavenly Father rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. [Col. 1:13] When speaking of the Kingdom of God, or the Church, we come to the realization that the initiative is always with God the Father. Our deliverance from the captivity of sin was manifested by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit through the person of Jesus Christ. While the Kingdom of God and the Church rightfully belongs to the Father, they have been entrusted to Jesus until comes the end, when Christ the King hands over the Kingdom of God to the Father, after He has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. [1 Cor. 15:24-6]
Our redemption, our forgiveness of sins, comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. Our forgiveness of sins comes through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confession. Our redemption comes through the aforementioned in addition of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion. For we need the Holy Spirit to sanctify us while we continually feed on the Bread of Life.
Colossians 1:15 tells us that "Christ is the image of the invisible God." [Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Cor. 11:7] This is a very powerful verse because they echo the words of Jesus. When Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied" [Jn. 14:8] Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?'" [Jn. 14:9]
Regarding the indwelling of the Father within Jesus, the Council of Ephesus, 431 A.D, in the Third letter of Cyril to Nestorius, stated,
"But we do not say that the Word of God dwelt as in an ordinary man born of the holy virgin, in order that Christ may not be thought of as a God-bearing man. For even though "the Word dwelt among us", and it is also said that in Christ dwelt "all the fullness of the godhead bodily", we understand that, having become flesh, the manner of his indwelling is not defined in the same way as he is said to dwell among the saints, he was united by nature and not turned into flesh and he made his indwelling in such a way as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body."
The indwelling of the Father within the Son was in such a way as we may say that the soul of man does in his own body. As it is impossible for anyone to show his soul to a person who ask, "Show me your soul?" it was impossible for Jesus to show the Father to His disciples. The physical body is a reflection, the true image, of the spiritual form of the person. When you look in a mirror, you see your reflection. When you look at the physical body of a person, you see the reflection of the spiritual body.
Verse 15 continues by saying that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. When it is stated that Christ is the firstborn of all creation, the word "creation" is not a reference to the animals, the trees, etc... It is a reference to Christ as the new Adam, the head of a new creation. Adam was created in the image of God [Gen. 1:27] and commissioned to rule over all the earth. [Gen. 1:28] Through disobedience, he failed his mission. Christ the King, as the new Adam, the new head of humanity, fulfilled this mission.
Christ is the firstborn within a "large family." [Rom. 8:29] When it is said that He is the firstborn, it is implied that many others will follow. And if many other will follow, because Christ the King is the firstborn, as the firstborn, He holds the position of supremacy, authority and power over all creation. "For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers all things have been created through him and for him." [Col. 1:16]
Through Jesus, the created universe obtains its unity and harmony. All things, visible or invisible, angelic or human beings, were created to come under the final authority of Christ the King. "Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together." [Col. 1:17] He was in the beginning with God. [Jn. 1:2] Before Abraham was, He was. [Jn. 8:58]
"Christ (the King) is the Head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything." [Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-3] Christ is the King of the new creation. [Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17]
"In Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily. [Col. 1:19, 2:9] In Christ dwelled the fullness of God, the Father, [Jn. 14:9] the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [Lk. 23:46]
"Through Christ, God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in Heaven, by making peace through the Blood of His Cross." [Col. 1:20] Through Christ, mankind has found peace with God the Father. Through Christ, the power was taken away from the evil angelic powers that battled in Heaven and accused the believers. [Rev. 12:7-10]
Having explained how Christ the King is the incarnation of God, the Head of the Body, the Church, and the firstborn of a new creation, we come to today's Gospel Reading [Lk. 23:35-45] when the sinner crucified beside Jesus said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." [Lk. 23:42] In other words, Jesus, remember me when You come to the fulness of Your glory for I want to be with You.
To the thief, Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." [Lk. 23:43] Jesus did not tell the thief that he would be "before" Him as a servant. He said, you will be "with" Me. In other words, the presence of the thief alongside Jesus would not be one of a slave or servant but of one who would be sharing in His royalty. The thief was called to be one of the many who would follow the Firstborn, Christ the King.
In life, we have a choice. We could be like the soldiers who mocked Jesus. [Lk. 23:36] We could be like the criminal on the cross who kept deriding Jesus. [Lk. 23:39] Or we could be like the repentant thief who said, "We indeed have been condemned justly for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." [Lk. 23:41] The choice is ours!
Above the head of Jesus was inscribed, "This is the King of the Jews." [Lk. 23:38] Because the Jewish nation rejected their King, Christ the King, through the love and mercy of God, the door was opened to the gentiles, our forefathers. For that we are grateful to the Jewish people. For had they accepted Christ the King as their Saviour, salvation may not have come to us. But, in His infinite Wisdom, the heavenly Father permitted that the heart of His people be hardened so He may expand His adoption of children to include each and everyone of us, our families, our relatives, our descendants.
As we continue with the celebration of today's Holy Mass, let us be thankful to Christ the King for having called up to partake in His eternal Kingdom. Let us always remain loyal to Christ who is the Head of the Body, the Church.
[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
"All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, 'Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: 'It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.'' So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel." [2 Sam. 5:1-3]
"Give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. The Father has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers all things have been created through him and for him. Christ is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Christ is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross." [Col. 1:12-20]
"When Jesus had been crucified, the people stood by watching; the leaders scoffed at him saying, 'He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!' The soldiers also mocked Jesus, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, 'If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!' There was also an inscription over Jesus, 'This is the King of the Jews.'
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding Jesus and saying, 'Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!' But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus replied, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" [Lk. 23:35-45]