November 27, 2023

Solemnity of Christ the King, 11/26/23

Fr. Elias Correa-Torres

Today we celebrate the solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe. And it is certain that this celebration is meant to be, for us, an occasion of hope. As Christians, we were saved in hope. We are people of hope.

But if we speak of having hope we speak of something that we do not yet have, because as we are taught, hope that sees for itself is not hope. And “who hopes for what one already sees?” We hope for what we do not currently see. So we wait with endurance. We persevere in doing good while we wait.

What hope does today’s celebration bring us? As is evident by even a cursory examination of the news, we labor in this life with the reality of brokenness and evil. As Saint Paul eloquently expresses it, the whole creation has become enslaved to corruption in every age, ours not excluded. We see the fruits of this enslavement. Human beings take each other’s lives in hatred and bitterness or greed. Wars and violence proliferate. Today, it’s Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza. Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. As individuals, human beings continue to take upon themselves addictions and compulsions in various forms. And thus, there are many who do not do what they want but what they do not want, to their own harm and the harm of others.

Words and speech have been multiplied in our society, but so much of it is mistaken or inaccurate, manipulated or even deceitful. Even creation seems to be out of sync with human beings. Hence, we see natural disasters. We hear of climate change and the climate crisis. And we have begun to exist in a default state of competition and conflicts with animals and plants and the natural world around us.

In our theology, we are taught that all of this has taken place because of human sin, as we were told today in our second reading. Death came through a man. In Adam all died and he stands in our place. We too sin. In the beginning, God subjected creation to human beings. He said to them, “Be fertile and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and all the living things that crawl on the earth.”

But thus it was that in the sinfulness of human beings, creation itself, subject to humanity, also became subject to the futility of sinfulness. But now we come to the hope of today’s celebration.

Today’s opening prayer proclaimed that God restores all things in his beloved Son, the King of the Universe. God made Christ King of all to save all things. When was it that Christ was made king? And how did this come about? Upon the cross in his moment of greatest humility for all. We hear that “Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped. Rather, he entered himself taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness. And found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. And because of this, God greatly exalted Him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on Earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Christ’s moment of greatest humility was also his moment of greatest glory. The throne of Jesus Christ is the cross upon which he gave his life for the world. The preface for today’s Eucharistic Prayer goes on to say God anointed his Son with the oil of gladness, making him eternal priest and king of all creation. And the sacrifice of this eternal priest is himself on the Cross. This sacrifice accomplished the mysteries of human redemption, forgiveness of sins, adoption for us as children of God, and the grace of ongoing transformation in the Spirit. Even now, though, we still struggle as we deal with the futility and enslavement of creation. But although we groan within ourselves as we wait for the fullness of adoption and the redemption of our bodies, yet we groan in the hope that Christ is setting us free.

He will give us freedom. And as for the rest of creation, we hear that it awaits with eager expectation the freedom of the revelation of the children of God. In subjection to human beings, creation fell. But in Christ, the redemption of human beings, there is now the hope that creation itself will be set free and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

So creation two groans with us. But in Christ, it too now has the hope of redemption and freedom. It groans as if in labor. The corruption will have an end and the struggle will give birth to something new and glorious. Even now, the deliverance of creation is advancing, and it will come as surely as the dawn.  God made all created things subject to Christ for all people and for nature itself, so that Christ might present to God an eternal and universal kingdom finally set free from slavery in all its forms.

Our second reading reiterates for us these ideas. It is in Christ Jesus that all shall be brought to life. The rule of Christ reconciles us. It bestows gifts of unity and peace among human beings. Christ transforms the divided and hostile, unites those who are two into one. He brings enmity finally to an end.

And in this new creation, the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb. The leopard shall lie down with the young goat and the calf, and the young lion shall browse together with a little child to guide them. Christ will destroy every sovereignty, authority, and power. He will put all his enemies under his feet, including death itself. Thus, Christ brings reconciliation to all things in himself and in his kingdom. And then the Son will himself be subjected to the Father, handing over the Kingdom so that God may be all in all.

So what are we to do, as we live now in Christ’s Kingdom?

First, we should have among ourselves the same attitude as Christ. He is king because of his humility. So for us, let us do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory. Rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.

And second, it is not just what we say, but what we do that matters. The sheep and the goats in the Gospel both called Jesus Lord, but that was not enough to be citizens of Christ’s kingdom.

We must be those who look out not for our own interests, but also for those of others. The goats were surprised to find that they had neglected Christ. Surely it was because they did not serve Christ in everyone, but only in those whom they preferred. As for us, we must be especially attentive to serving the least ones, those people who are off-putting to us who annoy or distress us.

These are Jesus in his most distressing disguise, but they are no less Jesus. Today we are told if we succeed in glorifying God, in obeying his commands, we shall reign with him eternally in his Heavenly Kingdom. Through this celebration, we are invited to grow in our appreciation and love for God’s kingship.

In this Eucharist, may we receive the grace increasingly to be true subjects of Christ the King.

Get in Touch

Whether you have questions about discernment and vocations or want general information about Belmont Abbey, we invite you to reach out and ask!