34th Sunday-Solemnity of Christ the King- Year A ~ November 26, 2023
A KING WITH HUMILITY
One day King Henry the Fourth of France was hunting in a large forest. Towards evening he told his men to ride home by the main road while he went by another way that was somewhat longer.
As he came out of the forest he saw a little boy by the roadside, who seemed to be watching for some one.
“Well, my boy,” said the king, “are you looking for your father?”
“No, sir,” answered the boy. “I am looking for the king. They say he is hunting in the woods, and perhaps will ride out this way. So, I’m waiting to see him.”
“Oh, if that is what you wish,” said King Henry, “get up behind me on the horse and I’ll take you to the place where you will see him.”
The boy got up at once and sat behind the king. The horse cantered briskly along, and king and boy were soon quite well acquainted.
“They say that King Henry always has a number of men with him,” said the boy; “how shall I know which is he?”
“Oh, that will be easy enough,” was the answer. “All the other men will take off their hats, but the king will keep his on.”
“Do you mean that the one with his hat on will be the king?”
Soon they came into the main road where several of the king’s men were waiting. All the men seemed amused when they saw the boy, and as they rode up, they greeted the king by taking off their hats.
“Well, my boy,” said King Henry, “which do you think is the king?”
“I don’t know,” answered the boy; “but it must be either you or I, for we both have our hats on.”
In the ancient times there were two types of kings either kind or cruel who love to show their power by helping or persecuting their subjects. None of the kings of world were poor or without army, slaves, and servants. Everyone loved power, wealth, and control.
But today we celebrate the Solemnity of a unique king whose journey started from a wood and ended on the wood. He is a king without army and power but ready to lay his life down for his friends. However, in spite of having nothing, St. Paul calls him “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, who no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1Tim 6:15-16). And St. Peter encourages everyone to imitate this King who wants to serve others because everything belongs to him: “Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1Peter 4:11).
The Book of Revelation portrays this King in this way: “Grace and peace—from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead and ruler of the kings of earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his own blood, who has made us a royal nation of priests in the service of his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen”.
This solemnity invites us to meditate on the humility, love and compassion of the King who became obedient to death even death on a cross. As Prophet Zechariah exclaims: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey”. Jesus is our King, but he is not a king like other kings or rulers of the world who love power and wealth, but he is a king who speaks the truth “Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So, Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” He is the King of Kings and Ruler of the rulers. He is a king who brings joy into the life of marginalized, rejected, outcast and poor of the society “For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels”. He is like a painter who has the power to cover any physical disability or spiritual weakness we have in our life.
Once upon a time, there was a Kingdom. The king there only had one leg and one eye, but he was very intelligent and kind. Everyone in his kingdom lived a happy and a healthy life because of their king. One day the king was walking through the palace hallway and saw the portraits of his ancestors. He thought that one day his children will walk in the same hallway and remember all the ancestors through these portraits. But the king did not have his portrait painted. Due to his physical disabilities, he wasn’t sure how his painting would turn out. So, he invited many famous painters from his and other kingdoms to the court. The king then announced that he wants a beautiful portrait made of himself to be placed in the palace. Any painter who can carry out this should come forward. He will be rewarded based on how the painting turns up. All the painters began to think that the king only has one leg and one eye. How can his picture be made very beautiful? It is not possible and if the picture does not turn out to look beautiful then the king will get angry and punish them. So, one by one, all started to make excuses and politely declined to make a painting of the king. But suddenly one painter raised his hand and said that I will make a very beautiful portrait of you which you will surely like. The king became happy hearing that and other painters got curious. The king gave him the permission and the painter started drawing the portrait. He then filled the drawing with paints. Finally, after taking a long time, he said that the portrait was ready! All the courtiers, other painters were curious and nervous thinking, how can the painter make the king’s portrait beautiful because the king is physically disabled? What if the king didn’t like the painting and gets angry? But when the painter presented the portrait, everyone in the court, including the king, left stunned. The painter made a portrait in which the king was sitting on the horse, on the one-leg side, holding his bow and aiming the arrow with his one eye closed. The king was very pleased to see that the painter has made a beautiful portrait by cleverly hiding the king’s disabilities. The King gave him a great reward.
Christ the King has painted us with his blood on the Cross with his love. Prophet Isaiah says, “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.” (53:4). St. Paul says even if you deny him, but he will never because he can not deny himself.
There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander (His name is mentioned in the First Book of Maccabees 1:1-2), after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill, and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.
He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.
“My first desire is that” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver, and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.
“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin. “The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.
Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why you make such strange wishes?”
At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.
The second wish of strewing gold, silver, and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.
And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”
“Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying”.
With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.
The King we remember today has not only conquered the whole world with his love but has also purified it with is precious blood on the Cross. His promise to everyone who believes in him, and follow is “To the one who wins the victory, who keeps to my ways till the end, I will give authority over the nations—the same authority I received from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. I will never erase his name from the book of the living but will acknowledge him in the presence of my Father and his angels. “I will make the victor a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall never leave it. I will inscribe on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which he will send down from heaven, and my own name which is new. “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself won the victory and took my seat beside my Father on his throne”.
Let’s learn from this King the lessons of Obedience, Love, Service, Humility, Compassion, Forgiveness and Acceptance. Origin once said “Therefore, if we wish God to reign in us, in no way should sin reign in our mortal body; rather we should mortify our members which are upon the earth and bear fruit in the Spirit. There should be in us a kind of spiritual paradise where God may walk and be our sole ruler with his Christ. In us the Lord will sit at the right hand of that spiritual power which we wish to receive. And he will sit there until all his enemies who are within us become his footstool, and every principality, power, and virtue in us is cast out. All this can happen in each one of us, and the last enemy, death, can be destroyed; then Christ will say in us: O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory? And so, what is corruptible in us must be clothed with holiness and incorruptibility; and what is mortal must be clothed, now that death has been conquered, in the Father’s immortality. Then God will reign in us, and we shall enjoy even now the blessings of rebirth and resurrection”.
Are we ready to imitate this King in humility?
Other Sermons In This Series
June 30, 2022
May 05, 2023
January 06, 2023