"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Sunday 25 November 2012

NOVEMBER 24th: FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING: A Homily preached by Dom Andrew Berry OSB

Daniel 7: 13-14
Revelation 1: 5-8
John 18: 33-37
Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!
Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ rules!

Today we come to the end of the Church’s liturgical year and from next week our attention will turn to the season of Advent and our preparation for the coming of Christ. Today, we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the Universal King, and our attention is turned not to the stable in Bethlehem but towards the Kingdom of Heaven where Christ is seated at the right hand of God as the Sovereign Lord of all creation. In today’s celebration we see in Christ the hope of humanity; who shows us who God is, and how we can keep him at the centre of our lives. In Christ we see a God who is close to his creation and to whom each one of us is precious and has value.

Today’s Gospel open to us the fullness of what it means to celebrate Christ as King; for it shows us exactly what kind of King we worship. The Gospel we have just heard comes from John’s passion narrative. The death of Jesus is imminent, we see him bound and humiliated before Pilate. “Are you a King”?  On the surface it seems a strange question for Pilate to ask and leaves us wondering what it is Pilate had heard about Jesus; what had he been told? Yet everything hangs on this question and that is as true now as it was then for whatever the answer Pilate will eventually have to make a choice; we too have to make the same choice for or against Jesus. “I am a king” replies Jesus, “and I came into the world to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth hear my voice”. What is this truth? It is the truth of the cross; Christ’s kingship is not of this world; for He is a king who rules, not from a royal throne in glory and splendour but from a cross in anguish and pain.

Christ did not come to establish a political sovereignty, but to bear witness to the truth of God’s universal dominion. Christ is the one who saves his people; a King who cares for the weak and the downtodden; who acts justly on behalf of the powerless and those for whom no one cares for. He is the perfect King who acts with mercy, compassion and tenderness; that seeks out the lost and carries them home; he is the one whose voice they hear and gladly obey.

Following this meeting with Pilate, Jesus is taken away scourged and dressed in a purple robe with a crown of thorns on his head. He goes to the cross wearing this crown of suffering; he goes to the cross as king. This is our king one who is victorious over sin and death who is mighty, full of power, who brings life to all who will accept him, all those who are on the side of truth. This is the same king to whom we sing Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus Imperat (Christ conquers, Christ reign, Christ rules).

The cross is not only the place where Christ offers himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of the world it is also the place where he conquers, where he reigns and where he rules and it is from the cross that Christ invites each one of us, sinful though we are, to live in his kingdom where he rules for all eternity. For Christ is the only way, the only truth and it is only in him that life in its fullness can be found; there is no other way to the Father except through him anything else is falsehood and delusionary.

Today’s feast serves to remind us that in baptism we are all given a share in the Kingship of Christ and that we have been sent out into the world, consecrated to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. Like Christ we are called to serve not to be served, to give of ourselves totally and utterly and to love as he loved and to share in his mission of redemption through lives of self-abandonment and service; for the Kingship of Christ has, at its heart, not power, wealth or status but love, compassion and selflessness. We are asked to be authentic witnesses to the Gospel, to reach out to those whose need is greater than ours, to make the Kingship of Christ known to a world that is either ignorant of him or chooses to ignore what he has to say. 

So, as we end this liturgical year we are left with a challenge. To what extent do our lives reflect that of Jesus Christ? To what extent have we/ I allowed Christ to become King of my life, to reign in my heart? Can I declare with St Bernard of Clairvaux: “I will have no other King but the Lord Jesus, for he alone is my King and my God”? Or are our hearts divided, hankering after power and status rather than the path of the Gospel? We are called to be sharers in the Kingdom and co-workers of Christ; his mission should be our mission, his truth must be our truth for it is only then are we truly children of God and servants of Christ the universal King. 


I was "Padre Formador" in their community of charismatic seminarians in 2006, and they are close friends. I am only sorry that I don't arrive in Lima until Tuesday week.

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