Home » Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 21st November 2021 – Solemnity of Christ the King

Gospel Encouragement – Sunday 21st November 2021 – Solemnity of Christ the King

Dear sisters and brothers,

As we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King this weekend, we have to explore what the Scriptures mean when they use this title for Jesus, because in many senses the term has lost its meaning for us.  We’re more used to prime ministers and presidents, and our own queen, probably the best known monarch in the world, is something of a figurehead.  And Jesus is far from being a figurehead or a democratically elected politician or the alternative, a dictator.

In the time that Jesus’ conversation with Pilate was going on, as we heard in today’s Gospel, kings could probably be termed ‘tyrannical’ on the whole.  Yes, there were good kings in the Old Testament, but in reality, only three from across the previous millennium could be viewed in this way – David, Hezekiah and Josiah –  but even they had massive flaws.

Jesus models for us a new kind of kingship, what kingship should really look like.  He showed himself to be a servant king who washed people’s feet, laid down his life for others, gave time to everyone, healed the brokenness of those he met and sought out the lost.  This model of kingship highlights what he tells us in the Gospel today: “my kingdom is not of this world”.  His kingdom is not like the other kingdoms of the time, empires that overran smaller countries, that suppressed cultures and religions, that walked over people to get their own way and that meted out brutal punishments.  Jesus’ kingdom was built upon the beatitudes, the blessings of God that we live and share.  These beatitudes reveal that true greatness lies in our recognition of our need for God, in the comfort that we give to those in need, in our faithful search for the truth of God and our gentle defence of it in the face of opposition, in the mercy that we show to others, in the integrity of our attitude and behaviour, in the peace that we work for in all our relationships, and how we accept the persecution that can come when we live by these beatitudes.

Jesus’ kingdom, then, is us, the Church – along with the Church in heaven – as we seek to share Christ’s love on his behalf in service of the world.  The love that this servant kingdom is made of highlights that Jesus’ kingdom is not a place but is the faith that we carry in our hearts from which that love flows.  We, you and I, are the kingdom of God, but we don’t necessarily feel like that kingdom, because we know our own weakness, our frailty, our fragility.  We often feel like hypocrites, play actors, rather than a kingdom.  But remember, we are in good company.

As Jesus stood before Pilate, Peter was in hiding, having denied Christ three times.  John was somewhere in Jerusalem, supporting Our Lady, but not making himself known.  All the other apostles had fled.  The women were slowly giving up hope and were preparing to offer their final service of honouring his dead body.  Only Mary grasped that this was part of a bigger picture, that a purpose was being fulfilled amidst her own pain.

Yes, we are in good company as we too seek to follow Jesus despite our own human weakness; as we struggle to find time to pray, or to concentrate when we do; and as we sin, and feel helpless and hopeless in our sinfulness at times.  But, despite all that, just as Jesus chose the weak, broken apostles, he chooses us.  He chooses us in order to love us, to forgive us, to encourage us and to strengthen us, enabling us to live in the kingdom more and more each day.

So, today let’s make our hearts his throne, inviting him to take up residence at the core of who we are.  Let’s entrust our weakness to him, allowing him to be our strength.  Let us trust in Christ our King.

With every blessing,

Simon (and Deacon Liam)