The Gifts of the King

22 November 2009 Solemnity of Christ the King
Daniel 7, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelations 1, 5-8; John 18, 33-37

Note: The Filipino version of this homily, previous this post, appears in the Tagalog Sambuhay today. Sambuhay is a missalette for Sundays; a publication of the Society of St. Paul.

Many of us are crazy about everything ‘Idol’. We watched every season of American Idol. In world religions, an idol is an image of a divinity used as an object or medium of worship. In the Christian and Jewish tradition, an idol is a false image of a god that does not exist. In common jargon — the way we used idol in the Philippines — an idol is a person loved or adored excessively. This Sunday, we are introduced to someone real and deserving our excessive love and adoration: Christ the King. Why? A true king is someone who serves his people. What are the things Christ has given us?

First, Christ has given us royalty. The reading from the book of Revelation says that Christ has given us a kingdom, and made it a kingdom of priests. Taken from the Exodus 19, this verse tells us about our status and our dignity.

A person with a kingdom is royalty; that he or she is descended or related by blood to a king or queen. With Christ, the King, we are indeed royalty. With Christ, we become sons and daughters of God — not just the highest specie in the animal kingdom. This is the reason why the church protects the rights of human beings and condemns any form of oppression. From the rights of the unborn to the criminal sentenced to death, the Church has not wavered in its stance on human life. Science see a human being as the highest form of animal — animal nevertheless — thus, human beings can be experimented on. Any form that curtails our dignity as children of God is condemned by the Church as immoral.

Second, Christ has given us priesthood. You see, in the olden days, the priest has the only right of access to God. Thus, the priest mediated prayers of the people to God. In the Jerusalem temple, any Jew can enter from the outermost court to the Court of the Israelites. The outermost is the Court of the Gentiles, followed by the Court of Women, and then the Court of the Israelites. But only the priest can enter the Court of the Priests, leading to the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies. With Jesus, everyone is now a priest: someone who has direct access to God, and to go closer to his presence. And this is a new way of living as Hebrews 10 tells us; that we now share a common priesthood, which was endowed to us in baptism.

Thus, it gives us a new way of regarding the church: an ecclesiology. Sacrosanctum Concilium or Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (SC) and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) tells us that “Catholics need to have a strongly developed liturgical spirituality that makes them more aware that at the Eucharist they join with the presider in the offering that Christ, the one and only high priest, makes to his Father for the life of the world. The royal priesthood of baptism consecrates the assembly of believers to a life of worship that finds its ‘source and summit’ in the Eucharistic gathering.” Therefore, when we participate at mass by singing and responding with our whole heart and attention, we are practicing our common priesthood. The mass therefore is not just the presider’s (or the priest’s) mass, but our mass. SC said that the best Eucharist is when there is ‘full, active, and conscious participation by everyone during mass.”

Third, Christ has given us hope. With the promise that the Lord will come — na Siya ang maghahari kailanman — we are given hope, strength and comfort when life is difficult. When John was writing the book of Revelations, he was writing at a very difficult time for Christians. They were hunted and persecuted in the Roman Empire. Many became martyrs. They knew that to believe in Christ, and to become a Christian, can also mean death. To believe that eventually, the Lord Almighty, is Lord of all, then any type of suffering and dying is worth it. Because nothing can destroy faith.

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