today's readings are 2 Sam. 5: 1-3; Psalm 122; Col. 1: 12-20; and Lk. 23: 35-43
He was the stepson of a carpenter and a teenage mother. After His birth, He and His parents became refugees for many years before they were able to return home. Raised in obscurity in a small town, He began His ministry when He was about 30. For three years He taught, healed, inspired and gathered followers. But it was a rocky road - for there were many setbacks and challenges. His ministry ended when He was put to death for the crime of supposedly claiming to be a king. Even though He was the greatest, historians never bestowed upon him the title “The Great”. Instead, He was given the title “the Christ”, which means the Anointed One. And while Jesus was never formally crowned on this earth, today we celebrate Him with the title of “King”.
But for many people, it can be a real struggle to think of Jesus as a king, especially when you consider many of those who have held that title throughout human history. As one who spoke of Himself as a servant, who gave Himself in his ministry and death as sacrifice, the title “king” seems at best a misnomer and at worst a misrepresentation of the God who took flesh, not be a ruler, but a brother and shepherd and saviour. “King” does not express the abundance of compassion, mercy and love that Jesus pours out on us, we that would be His subjects.
Even the crucifixion scene described in today’s gospel does not evoke the traditional kingly images of one who sits on a throne with his crown of gold, with scepter in hand, wearing a purple robe, with his subjects bowing before him, addressing him with respectful words. Instead, Jesus’ throne is a cross, the garment He wears is not even His own, His crown is one of thorns, and the soldiers and the leaders mock Him with words of disrespect. This is no traditional king.
What do we see in this scene? One who is patient, enduring, and silent. He breaks His silence only to make a promise, to remember and bring the good thief into His kingdom. Later, speaking of those who are tormenting Him, he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do”. That is the King that we celebrate today – a king of mercy, forgiveness, tenderness, compassion, service and love. A king who humbled Himself to become one like us - to serve us, to save us, to give us the possibility of eternal life.
My dear people, as we consider this King of ours, we need to ask ourselves how we, His followers, should respond? If we consider what Jesus Christ has done for us, then our response should be one of awe and gratitude. What did you and I do to deserve such a love? Christ our King didn’t have to that for us. But He did, freely and willingly. His life, his death, his resurrection was a complete gift to us. You can’t help but develop a sense of gratitude. You can’t help but begin to express words of thanks, words of faith, words of worship for Christ our King.
But while we say that we believe and worship Him, our words are not enough. It’s not enough to “talk the talk”, but we also need to “walk the walk”. Just as He came into this world to serve us, we in turn are called to serve Him in this world. And how do you do that? Allow me to share with you a few suggestions how you can serve our King, especially as next weekend we enter into the season of Advent in which we prepare ourselves for the 2-fold coming of Christ in our world.
To begin, here's two spiritual suggestions for you to do and in so doing to honour our King. Starting this Wednesday, after the 7 pm mass, and for the next 3 Wednesdays, Deacon Gerry will be giving reflections about the following Sunday of Advent. On Monday, December 12th, we will be holding our Advent reconciliation evening, with a number of priests present. When was the last time you went to confession? If it's been a while, don't worry, we will be happy to guide you to experience the healing forgiveness of our God.
Another way to serve Christ our King is to raise awareness of our need reach out to the disadvantaged in our midst. Our parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society holds its annual Christmas collection next month. I realize that many of you have already made that donation. If you have, thank you. For those have not yet done so, please give and be generous. Your donations provide badly needed help to disadvantaged families and individuals who live literally in our midst.
Or maybe this Advent is the time to enquire about one of our many parish organizations and ministries. Our Caring Ministry, for example, brings Holy Communion and spiritual support to the shut ins of our community. And they would certainly welcome new volunteers for this wonderful ministry.
You know, when we do things like that, when we generously give of our time, talent and treasure for the benefit of others, we just don’t do them because they are “feel good” things, but we do so to bring honour to Christ our King. For just as He came into this world to give and share of Himself with us, so too we His people are called to share and give of ourselves for others.
It comes down to this: Worshipping, giving, sharing, caring - that’s how we bring honour, that’s how we serve, that’s how we show that Jesus Christ is our King.