Sunday, November 23, 2014

Homily for Today

"God highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [Phil. 2:9-11]

Welcome everyone to today's celebration of the Holy Mass. Today, by the grace of the heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been called and moved to celebrate the very special Feast of Christ the King. Although Christ has always been recognized by the Holy, Catholic and apostolic Church as the King of kings, the Feast of "Christ the King" did not receive its official recognition until its institution in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.

Reviewing the kingship of the Lord, the title of King goes back quite far in biblical history. The first mention of a king in the Holy Bible is in the Book of Genesis. About 1,500 B.C., King Bela, the son of Beor, reigned in the city of Dinhabah, the capital of Edom. He was one of the many kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king ever reigned over God's chosen people, the Israelites. [Gen. 36:31]

Biblical history tells us that God chose a people to be His own, starting with Abraham, and going down through his many generations. Unofficially, God was the King of the Israelites, although the word King was not used early in time.

Then came the days of Samuel when his sons were appointed as judges over Israel. They did not follow the ways of their father, turning aside after gain, taking bribes and perverting justice. [1 Sam. 8:3] Because of this, the elders of the Isrealite people, God's chosen nation, approached Samuel, asking him to appoint a king over them. [1 Sam. 8:5]

God was very offended by this. In His own words, He said, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." [1 Sam. 8:7] This is where we first learn that our One and true God is the Supreme King over all the people.

When the elders asked for a king of their own, God gave a message to Samuel regarding the consequences of having a worldly king. When Samuel related God's message to the people, [1 Sam. 8:10-7] the elders persisted that they should have a king over them like the other surrounding nations [1 Sam. 8:20] that were not of God's people.

Consequently, God informed Samuel to proceed and give the Isrealite people their first king. As commanded by God, Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of God's chosen people. [1 Sam. 10:1]

The reign of kings for God's people continued for about one thousand years until such time as the Israelites were taken into captivity. During their suffering, the Israelites never gave up hope that one day, God's promise would be fulfilled - He would give them a King who would rule over them for eternity.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel, [Ezek. 34:11-12, 15-17] we heard of God's promise that He Himself would come as the Shepherd of His sheep to seek them out and rescue them from where they have been scattered. In this passage, we perceive the unforgotten love of a King who takes care of His subjects.

God said, "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed my sheep with justice." [Ezek. 34:16] Here, we see the justice of the Eternal King who had yet to be proclaimed as the King of kings.

The Book of Zechariah prepared the closing of the age of the Old Testament. God said, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king come to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." [Zech. 9:9]

The last Book of the Old Testament, the Book of Melachi states, "See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." [Mal. 3:1]

As Biblical history tells us, John the Baptist was sent as the messenger of God to prepare the way for the Lord. A week before His crucifixion, Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem at which time He was proclaimed as the promised King. [Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-40; Jn. 12:12-9] Jerusalem is the City of the Great King. [Mt. 5:35]

To fulfill God the Father's promises that are found in the Old Testament, Jesus, in who all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily, [Col. 1:19, 2:9] was sent by the Heavenly Father and was proclaimed in Jerusalem as the eternal King.

During His ministry on earth, Jesus preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand. [Mt. 4:17] He said that His Kingdom was not of this world. [Jn. 18:36] "Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God was coming, and He answered, '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 you.'" [Lk. 17:20-1]

On another ocassion, Jesus said, "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the Kingdom of God has come to you." [Lk. 11:20; Mt. 12:28] Speaking to the crowd and His disciples, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come with power." [Mk. 9:1]

All these Bible passages tell us that the Kingdom of God is now here, having arrived on earth. It is not a physical Kingdom, but rather a spiritual Kingdom that is manifested visibly through the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

During today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians, [1 Cor. 15:20-26, 28] we heard that Christ was raised from the dead as the first fruits of those who have died. One day, all those who have walked their living faith in Christ will resurrect from the dead to receive their salvation and to be glorified in Christ.

To walk one's living faith means to believe in Jesus Christ as one's Saviour, to be baptized, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the remission of sins and to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, as one's assurance of salvation. All of these are necessary during our sanctification by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, Christ the King.

At present, Christ is reigning as our King, gradually destroying every ruler, authority and power of Satan that has overtaken this world through the sin of Adam. He will reign until such time until He has put all His enemies under His foot, destroying every last one to death.

By this, it is meant that the number of those who are born again [Jn. 3:3, 5, 7; 1 Jn. 4:7, 5:1, 4] in Christ as new creations [1 Jn. 3:9, 5:18] shall increase tremendously. The believers will all have received their gift of the promised new heart and human spirit, [Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31] over and above the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. [Ezek. 36:26-7] The number of the born again Christians, God's chosen people who form the invisible Kingdom of God on earth, the Mystical Body of Christ that is made visible through the Holy Catholic Church, shall increase to such an extent that the number of Satan's followers will have become minimal, they being destroyed.

This is the spiritual work that Christ, our King, the King of kings, is presently doing on earth by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. All this is being done so that in the end, Christ the King shall hand over the Kingdom to God the Father, all being subjected to God so that God may be all in all.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Matthew [Mt. 25:31-46] discloses to us what will happen just before all of this is accomplished. Jesus will come in His glory with all the angels. He will sit on the Throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate the sheep from the goats, the sheep at His right and the goats at His left.

To the sheep, those who have persevered in their living faith until the end, Jesus will say, come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For when I was hungry, you gave Me food. When I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed Me. When I was naked, you gave Me clothing. When I was sick, you took care of Me. When I was in prison, you visited Me. For as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to Me.

To the goats on His left, He will say, you that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire 0prepared for the devil and his angels. When I was hungry, you did not feed Me. When I was thirsty, you gave Me nothing to drink. Etc...

Today's Gospel echoes the eternal Divine love and justice of our beloved King. He will show His eternal love to those who have shown love in this world. He will show His eternal justice against those who have failed to live a righteous life. Divine justice shall favour those who have been persecuted because of their living faith in Christ.

As we reflect on all the goodness of God that we have received by the grace of God the Father through Christ the King, our calling, our living faith, our Baptism, our new heart and human spirit, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Holy Church Sacraments, the fruit of the Spirit that shine through us, let us give thanks to Christ the King for showing us the way to His eternal Kingdom. For without the abundant blessings of our most generous King, we could never attain salvation on our own. Praise be Christ the King!

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