20 November 2010

ONLY ONE KING

Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe
Lk 23:35-43

Lately, the broadsheets announced the engagement of Prince William and Ms. Kate Middleton. Prince William is the first-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Next only to his father, Prince William is the heir to the throne of Queen Elizatbeth II, the reigning queen of England.

Do you know that Queen Elizabeth II is one of the longest reigning monarch in the whole world? She married Prince Philip, duke of Greece. This sounds almost like a scoop in a royal tabloid, but do you know that on their wedding day, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip received 25,000 gifts from all over the world? Amazing, is it not? I wonder how long it took them to open and appreciate each of those gifts. I wonder how it feels to receive 25,000 presents on a single occasion.

Together with King Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain, with King Faisal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, and with Emperor Hirohito and Empress Michiko of Japan, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are two of the very few remaining monarchs in the world today. Unlike in times past, royalties are now a dying breed.

On the one hand, monarchs are fading because most nations have been dismayed with the flamboyance of royal blood and people asked themselves why they have to be ruled over. On the other hand, there are still some countries that defend their monarchies because they believe that they unify them.

In 1950, King Farouk of Egypt commented that soon enough only five kings will be left in the world: the king of hearts, the king of spades, the king of diamonds, the king of clubs, and the king of England.

Today, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, our first reading is about the fate of kings. From his life of pasturing sheep and making music with his harp, David rose to power as king of Israel. Before he was enlisted among King Saul’s servants, David was a shepherd boy from Bethlehem. In the royal court, his chore was simple: entertain the manic-depressive King Saul by playing his harp. But David proved that he was more than a musician. He slew Goliath, the “Many Pacquiao” of the Philistines, and won for King Saul many battles. Not too long, however, King Saul felt threatened and envious of David’s successes and popularity; thus, on several instances, he attempted to kill him. Once, he even threw a spear at David while the latter was playing the harp for him. Good that King Saul was a poor spear-thrower, he missed. From then on, David hid in the mountains of Judea and there started his own guerilla movement. Many times, he could have killed the king, but David – “a man according to the heart of God” as the Bible calls him – never laid a finger on Saul.

When Saul died, David came down from the Judean mountains and became the king of Judah, the strongest tribe in the South. Immediately, the main agendum of his reign was to unite Israel into a one nation. He accomplished his dream when, after seven years, he was acknowledged king of the whole Israel. It is from this part of Jewish history that our first reading today picks up. When David visited the northern tribe to reconcile with it, the leaders reminded him: “We are your own flesh and blood.” Only after their affinity was confirmed was David acknowledged as king. Thereupon, David was anointed with oil and became king of the whole Israel.

When St. Luke penned the story of Jesus, he carefully introduced Jesus as One who belonged to a particular people and history. Jesus was born into a specific tradition. The Archangel Gabriel even announced unto Mary, “The Lord God will give Him the throne of David, His father; He will rule the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” When Jesus was finally born, He arrived in the city of David, Bethlehem, and from the lineage of the Great King himself, David. Indeed, Jesus was royal blood, but He refused the grandeur of worldly power.

At the start of His public ministry, Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. One of the temptations He contended with was the allurement of worldly power. Satan tempted Jesus to rule over already existing kingdoms rather than establish the kingdom of God on earth. But Jesus, instead, spent His earthly life fighting the force that lords over others, the power that exalts the self and, too often, exalts itself at the expense of others. His way was the path of seeming weakness. He taught His disciples to respectfully criticize the religious leaders of His time. And for Him, the truly powerful is the one who serves and not the one who is served.

The authority of Jesus is the power of His unique holiness. No one invested such power on Him and no one can take it away from Him either. His authority came from His Father who overshadowed Him with power and the Spirit. Unlike the monarchs of the world, Jesus needed no installation nor investiture nor coronation.

The kingdom of Jesus is the kingdom that seeks the outcast, the poor, the wounded, the sinner. After a year-long reading from the gospel according to St. Luke, this picture of Jesus’ kingdom should be very clear to us now. And as the present liturgical year reaches its last Sunday today, it is very fitting that Jesus ends up between two criminals, in the midst of the kind of people He sought for in His entire ministry to tell them that God loves them more than they know and that there is a kingdom waiting for their change of heart.

Throughout His entire earthly life, Jesus shared His forgiveness; He died breathing it forth. He died just as He lived. Though dying, Jesus still had time for others. He truly was the powerful, for nothing could hold Him but His decision to love. Though His crown was made of thorns and His throne was the cross, Jesus gave us another picture of His kingdom: the king and the criminal entered paradise together.

That criminal outdid Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of England who received 25,000 gifts on their wedding day. That criminal likewise outdid Kate Middleton who received from her fiancée, Prince William, an engagement ring of sapphire surrounded with diamonds (the engagement ring of the prince’s own mother – Diana – from Prince Charles). That criminal who was crucified with Jesus at Calvary received heaven itself, the eternal paradise. He did not even have to steal it from the King. He simply had to receive it with all his heart.

We do not have to be royalties to own heaven. Of course, we also do not have to be criminals to enter into it either. All we need to do is to accept our own poverty before God and sincerely accept Jesus as our only King.

King Farouk of Egypt was wrong when he said that only five kings would be left in the world. The truth is, there is only one real king: Jesus.

4 Comments:

At 12:46 AM , Blogger MJ said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful article. I will share it with my two children. I will even share it with the teenagers at confirmation class. Blessed be God forever.

 
At 4:15 PM , Anonymous rose said...

As we say and claim that Jesus is the King of our life, it should supposedly show in our way of living that Jesus is truly our King. We should not allow the following kings such as the king of gossip, king of power, king of money, king of hatred, king of envy, etc. to be overpowered us. We, as beloved children of God, must follow His Holy Will, so that He will eternally reign in our hearts and in our home.

 
At 3:52 AM , Blogger david_hatton said...

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At 11:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

How great You are dear Lord,
for You are never new and never old,
nothing under Your control can ever be out of control.

Teach us to take off our hands at the steering wheel, and put You at the driver's seat.

We Trust that You Mastered everything, lifting Earth to Heaven and stoops Heaven to Earth,

Greatest are You Lord, the real King !!

Amen.


-rory

 

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