Homily for the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Who is Jesus for you? Is He just a nice guy who taught us what it looks like to care for other people, an example for us to follow? Or is He a prophet who shared with the world a revelation about who God is? Or is He the King of kings, the savior of the world, the One who holds your heart? Who is Jesus for you?
Over the past few weeks now, the readings for Mass have invited us to reflect on the end times and our relationship with the Lord in the midst of that reality. We have been reminded of how we are called to love God and neighbor with our whole heart, mind, and soul, living out the fullness of our identities as beloved sons and daughters of God. We have been challenged to be watchful and to expect the Bridegroom to return soon, to be prepared for His arrival at any moment. And then last week, we were encouraged to remember what the reward for us will be if we simply remain in God’s love, recognizing who He is for us, embracing the gifts He has given us and returning those blessings back to Him. Today, those themes culminate in the Feast that we celebrate – Christ, the King of the Universe.
This also happens to be the last Sunday of the liturgical year and a reminder for us that there will, at some point in the future, be a final day of history when Jesus returns in glory. On that day, He will come to judge the living and the dead, as we pray in the Creed each Sunday. And that encourages us to reflect on whether we have an intimate relationship with the Lord, if we recognize Him as the King of Kings and Lord of our hearts, and if we are following all that He has commanded us.
The statement that Jesus makes in today’s Gospel is that He has authority over the entire universe. “He doesn’t say he is one wise man among many, one philosopher among many, or one prophet among many. He tells us that all the nations of the world will come before him to be judged; all the angels of heaven make up his royal court; he holds in his hands the eternal destiny of every man and woman of all time. Jesus is claiming to be the Lord and King of the entire universe, of all history, and of eternity.”[i] Do we believe that to be the case? Who is Jesus for you?
Next week we begin the season of Advent, a time allowing us to focus on preparing our hearts to receive Jesus at Christmas, when He will abandon His throne in Heaven to come down to earth. He will step down from that Heavenly realm into the chaos and mess of the world. He steps into the darkness of our uncertainty, of our sin, of our loneliness, of our longing for peace to simply walk with us in the midst of it. He comes to seek out the lost, to bind up the broken and hurting, to heal the sick. By doing that, He shows us how His love is selfless, compassionate, forgiving, and unconditional. He is a King with a saving and liberating mission: freeing us from all types of bondage, enabling us to live peacefully and happily on earth even in the midst of uncertainty, and promising us an inheritance in the eternal life of heaven. We honor Christ as the King of the Universe and the King of our hearts by giving him our lives.
Jesus is the King of kings, the one who sits on the thrones of our hearts. He desires every part of our lives – our affections, our attitudes, our desires. Everything we do, say and think should be animated by the fact that Jesus is our King. The fullness of Jesus’ kingdom will come, on the final day of history, when the darkness will be scattered and the power of the enemy completely destroyed. But we also have to recognize that that Kingdom is already present…because that kingdom is wherever He is.
Christ is right here in this Church – in every single one of us. In just a few moments, He will actually be among us as the bread and the wine will be consecrated and transformed before our very eyes into Christ’s very Body and Blood. And after we receive Him, His presence will be with us in a real way. Because of that, we should be manifesting that presence in the world. We should be giving witness to Him, especially now when the world is enduring so much uncertainty – that’s what the Gospel challenges us to do today, to make Christ known in the world. But we can’t do that if we first don’t recognize who He is for us. We can’t do that if there is something holding us back from embracing Jesus as the King of our hearts.
As we enter into this holy season next week and begin to prepare for the coming of our Savior into the world, let’s be mindful of the ways in which Jesus is not the king of our hearts. Is there something that we’re holding onto that is preventing us from allowing Jesus to make his throne there?
Whatever that thing might be that’s preventing us….holding onto a past hurt; feeling guilt or shame around a past mistake; struggling with habitual sin; fighting an addiction; lacking the ability to forgive someone; failing to be able to see Christ in our suffering…whatever it is. We are being called to invite the Lord ever more deeply into our hearts today, to help us overcome those things, and to trust that He will be there with us despite them.
Christ already dwells in our hearts. All we have to do is continually give him the permission to stay there and to establish his throne there. As we come forward to receive him anew in the Eucharist, let’s call to mind what those things are that prevent us from inviting the Lord to make his throne on our hearts. Ask him for help in letting go of what is holding us back. Reflect on the question: who is Jesus for me? And, do I give Him permission to be King of kings and Lord of my heart?