Readings for Sunday, November 20 / Solemnity of Christ the King: 2 Samuel 5:1-3 | Psalm 122 | Colossians 1:12-20 | Luke 23:35-43
“Trump is not my president.” Anybody heard that in the last week or so? It's an interesting response - a rejection of the President-elect, but it doesn't change the fact that come January he will in fact be the President of the United States. It does change the disposition of one's heart so there is a sense of an unwillingness to hear his words and to presume on good - to have an open heart to see what happens. It's a true statement in a sense, but even more true is that Jesus Christ is King of the universe. Maybe four years from now, or eight years from now, one can truly say Donald Trump is not the president, he's not my president - and say it in truth because he will be replaced by someone else. But there will never be a time or a place where one can say Jesus Christ is not the King. Never. For all of history, Christ reigns.
Yesterday I had the privilege of going to Zion Travelers Baptist Church to be able to assist with a double funeral of Clayton Guidry and Christopher Armister. And in preparation for that, obviously not being a Catholic ceremony, we were trying to get our ducks in a row - myself and the other pastor - to try and see who was doing what and in what order. And so we were talking on the phone a couple days prior, and after we had sorted out some of the details regarding the service, we just started talking about being ministers of the Gospel. We began to talk about some of those things and one thing Rev. Tircuit said struck me; it’s something that I think applies to us this weekend. He said, "You know Father, our job isn't, nor are we able to, drag people into Heaven. We can't tie a rope to them and drag them behind us kicking and screaming just to get them to the pearly gates. Our job is basically we go, we proclaim the good news of Jesus, and if they accept it, good, and if not, it's not our fault." It was that recognition of the personal reality that indeed, just as one needs to accept the president as their president and have an openness to him, even more so it's the same with Christ - to have an openness to Christ, an openness to hearing His voice, seeking His choice for us. What is the will of God for me? To be willing to follow it. To have Him speak on my behalf. To have Him make decision for me. Are we willing to let Christ be that kind of King? Where we step back and let Him rule not just a portion of our lives, not just Sunday morning during the 9:30 am - 10:30 am slot, or the time in prayer throughout the day that we have those little spots here in there, but to rule every single moment, every single second, to let Jesus Christ be our King.
The Old Testament says, "I set before you today two choices, two paths: life and death. Choose life." Choose life. Choose Christ. Choose eternity. Choose heaven. Anything you want to say - that's all the same. They are the same reality. To place ourselves in the care of Christ our God - that's the end point.
As we come to this last Sunday in the liturgical year, we come with an opportunity to start fresh. Today is the last day of the Year of Mercy, but it doesn't have to be the end of the time of mercy, in fact, God's mercy is endless. So every day, we have the privilege of celebrating the mercy of God. Next weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, the new liturgical year, and it's an opportunity for us to start again. Just the same as we like to make our New Year's resolutions for January 1 - and usually fall off by January 2 - but with God, we can do even greater things. With God we can come and begin in Advent, to commit ourselves once more to allowing Christ to be truly our King, to let Him reign in hearts, but also in our daily lives. It's an opportunity, again, to start fresh, to recommit. And so if you haven't been attending Sunday Mass regularly, been a little spotty here and there, commit again today, right now, to coming every Sunday. Or if you've been coming to daily Mass every now and then, but have been slacking off on it, commit again today to be here with the Lord. If you have permitted yourself a time of prayer but sometimes other things take a little more importance and the prayer falls to the back seat, commit again today to letting Christ be first. If there are times in the course of our day that we don't really allow mercy to shine through in our hearts, commit again today to being a person of mercy. All of these things are invitations for us - graces that the Lord holds out and says, "Come. Come to Me." He says it directly in the Gospel, "Come to Me all you who are burdened and I will give You rest. My yoke is sweet and My burden is light." Come to me. Join yourself to Me. To the extent that we join our self to Jesus Christ things become easier, even if they become harder. Even if the weight of the cross becomes a little more heavy on our shoulders, it also becomes lighter in a sense because we bear it in union with Christ. Who among us would choose a king whose throne looked like a cross? And yet, that's what the Lord calls us to, to let Him lead us in ways that sometimes seem foolish, in ways that seem worthy of mockery to those around us. To give everything to Christ, and to the extent that we do it, He does the work for us. I need not worry of taking care of things myself, as Christ would on it on my behalf. My King will lead me, and that's good.
At the end of the liturgical year on Christ the King Sunday, there is a prayer of consecration to the heart of Jesus that the Church has given us as an indulgenced prayer. Again it's a prayer of consecration of ourselves in our world to the Most Sacred Heart of the Lord and to prayer that our hearts will become like His. Indeed that's always the invitation, to let our hearts, representing our whole person, be placed within His. His heart that burns for others, that burns with love for us, and longs to receive us into heaven. He can't drag us either, as much as He would like to I'm sure. So it's for us to place ourselves in His care. To place our heart in His heart, that we might love like He loves. And so we offer this prayer, and again the Church offers a plenary indulgence to those that offer this prayer on this feast. It's a wonderful grace to offer this prayer. And so I offer it with you and on your behalf and encourage you to allow the words that are spoken to truly resonate within your hearts.
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.