What kind of King?

christthekingiconKings are an interesting concept. When someone tries to impose their will upon us, one of our tried-and-true responses is, “Who died and made you king?” Maybe our American spirit has a bias against unbridled power in the hands of the one. Yet there is something within in us that wants a king when we want a king – you know – the times we feel uncertain, times are turbulent, and we are just a tad frightened.

In Bible Study, we just finished a section on the Kings of Judah and Israel.  The people were uncertain, a bit frightened, and times were turbulent.  At a pivotal point in the Old Testament, the people come to the prophet Samuel and demand that he ask God to send them a king so that they could be, not the people of God, but that they could be like the people in the nations around them. It seemed to the Israelites that those people were secure, safe and prosperous. Samuel understood the implications: the people thought that the Lord God wasn’t doing such a good job – else why would their lives be other than safe and sound? Right? The people wanted a different king. Continue reading

The Power of Christ the King

christthekingiconImagine four persons in a room. The first is a powerful dictator who rules a country. He commands armies, directs the lives of millions, and his wishes become law and are enforced. He possesses a brutal power. Next to him sits a gifted athlete at the pinnacle of his physical prowess. This is one whose speed, strength, and endurance have few equals. His is a graceful power for which he is much admired and envied. The third person is a rock star whose music and charisma electrify sold out arenas. Her words can become the anthem for a generation. Her power is a soulfulness of the muse. The fourth person in the room is a newborn, a baby, lying in its crib, unable to clearly ask for what it needs. Continue reading

Crucifying the King: “Father forgive them…”

jesus_crucifiedLuke 23:35-43. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 (Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”) They divided his garments by casting lots. [The above is not part of the Sunday reading, but is generally considered within the narrative.] 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Commentary. In verses just prior to our gospel reading, Jesus addresses the women as representative of the nation: “daughters of Jerusalem” (Is 37:22; Mic 1:8; Zeph 3:14; Zech 9:9). Jesus notes that they weep for the wrong thing: “weep for yourselves and for your children.” This is because Jesus’ rejection means judgment for the nation (Luke 13:34; 19:41-44; 21:20-21). The tragedy, Jesus says, is not his death but the nation’s failure to choose deliverance, life and forgiveness. Continue reading

Crucifying the King: Context

English: Stained glass window at the Melkite C...

Luke 23:35-43. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. 34 (Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”) They divided his garments by casting lots. [The above is not part of the Sunday reading, but is generally considered within the narrative.] 35 The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” 36 Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine 37 they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”  39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Context. Here on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time the Church celebrates Christ the King Sunday. The title is given several places in Scripture:  king of ages (1 Timothy 1:17), King of Israel (John 1:49), King of the Jews (Mt. 27:11), King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16), King of the nations (Book of Revelation 15:3) and ruler of the kings of the Earth (Rev. 1:5). The solemnity has been celebrated on the Roman calendar since 1925 and was instituted as a culmination of the liturgical year and a reminder that in His suffering and death, Christ ascended to his throne. Continue reading

The Power of Christ the King

Holy-Face-of-Jesus-23Imagine four persons in a room. The first is a powerful dictator who rules a country. He commands armies, directs the lives of millions, and his wishes become law and are enforced. He possesses a brutal power. Next to him sits a gifted athlete at the pinnacle of his physical prowess. This is one whose speed, strength, and endurance have few equals. His is a graceful power for which he is much admired and envied. The third person is a rock star whose music and charisma electrify sold out arenas. Her words can become the anthem for a generation. Her power is a soulfulness of the muse. The fourth person in the room is a newborn, a baby, lying in its crib, unable to clearly ask for what it needs. Continue reading

The King of Hearts

Christ, our eternal Priest-KingAbraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua – some of the great names of Israel’s history. And none of them were king. Yet under the leadership of God, they led Israel from slavery to the freedom of the promised land.  Deborah, Gideon, Samson – none of them were kings, yet under the leadership of God, these Judges united Israel to defend itself and identity against the other nations. To be the qahal Yahweh– the people of God. And the last of the judges was Samuel. It was to Samuel that the people came and said “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, as other nations have, to judge us.”  When Samuel prayed about this before the Lord, God said in answer: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” Continue reading

Christ the King

every once in a while, a Sunday homily will make it to these pages…

Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday which comes either on the Sunday before Thanksgiving or the Sunday following Thanksgiving. – a time we when we are busy about many things. We are preparing to travel, to cook, to receive visitors, to celebrate, and all sorts and manner of things. It is not a time when we are given to pause and reflect on what it means to hold that Christ is King. Continue reading