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Thirty-fourth Sunday – Christ the King – Year C – Ordinary Time
Readings: 2 Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43.
1/ Reading I: RSV 2 Samuel 5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. 2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said to you, `You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'” 3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
2/ Reading II: RSV Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; 16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
3/ Gospel: RSV Luke 23:35 And the people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
I. THEME: Only Christ is worthy to be our king.
People would like to have a king who is both talented and virtuous to govern them in love and justice; but it is very hard to find such a king in this world. Sometimes they could find one; but this kind of king doesn’t last very long. People should not be hopeless because God prepares for people a perfect king from the beginning of the history of salvation to govern them eternally.
Today readings introduce to people that king, Christ, and his ideal kingdom in heaven. In the first reading, king David is considered the most ideal king of the Israelites because he had talents to unite all Israel’s twelve tribes as one kingdom and to expand its boundaries to the furthest ends. The Israelites constantly desire to have such a king to appear again and to govern them for ever. In the second reading, the author of the Letter to the Colossians provided theological reflections about Christ’s kingship, kingdom and the priviledges which the faithful shall be enjoyed through Christ’s death and resurrection. Christ liberates his people from sins and the devil’s power, brings them into the full of light kingdom and governs them eternally. In the Gospel, Christ triumphed over sins and death by his suffering death on the cross and is ready to receive into his kingdom all who recognize and believe in his kingship.
1/ Reading I: “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.” Reign over us!
1.1/ David was anointed to be the Israelites’ second king.
After the time of the judges, the elders gathered and came to the prophet Samuel to ask him for a king as their neighbor countries so that this king shall govern and lead them to fight in time of wars. Samuel was very upset because he thought if he grants them, he shall oppose God’s kingship. After took counsel with God and warned them of many sufferings they must endure if they have a human king, he anointed Saul as the Israelites’ first king. But Saul didn’t please God; He commanded Samuel to come to Jesse’s house at Bethlehem to anoint David, Jesse’s youngest son who was a shepherd.
After was anointed by Samuel, David governed only three tribes which are Ephraim, Judah, and Benjamin in seven years at Hebron. King David is a God-fearer, has military talent; he conquered Jerusalem city which is well-known for a very difficult city to attack. He is also a good leader and king. When other tribes heard about his fame, they gathered and came to meet him at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said to you, `You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'”
King David established with them a covenant at Hebron before God. Then they anointed him as the king of Israel. Only in David’s time, all the tribes united and expanded their boundaries to the maximum. To all Jews, they still consider David as an ideal king and his reign as the most glorious reign of the Israelites. King David chose Jerusalem as the capital of the new kingdom, both Israel and Judah.
1.2/ Christ is the king in David’s lineage: After David’s reign, the kingdom was divided by two at the end of king Solomon’s reign and gradually declined. From that time, the Israelites always expect a king like David to come and to reign over them.
The Books of Psalm and the prophets mention many times that the Messiah shall come from David’s lineage. He shall come to unite the Israelites’ twelve tribes and reign over them for ever; his kingdom shall be without end. The prophets also foretold that the Messiah is not only the Israel’s king but also the king of all nations of this world. Jerusalem is chosen to be the place where the Messiah shall gather all nations.
2/ Reading II: Christ’s power and kingdom
2.1/ Christ came to liberate his people: According to the ancient custom, the king can bring all people of the conquered nation to his own kingdom. This is the reason why the Israelites were on exile to Assyria in 721 B.C. and the Judahites to Babylon in 587 B.C. The author of the Letter to the Colossians applied this custom to Christ’s victory. He liberated the faithful:
(1) From darkness to full of light place: Living in the world, people are surrounded by all kinds of darkness which are wrong teachings. Christ is the light; he comes to enlighten people by bringing the truth and God’s revelation.
(2) From slavery to freedom: When people commit sins, they become slavery for sins and death. Christ comes to liberate people from power of sins and to lead them into his glorious and eternal kingdom.
(3) From being condemned to being reconciled: When people sin, they must pay for it. Christ comes to take away people’s sins and to reconcile them with God; therefore, “in (the Son) we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(4) From Satan’s to Christ’s kingdom: Before Christ’s coming, Satan dominated people. Christ comes to destroy sins and death which are Satan’s power, to lead people to his kingdom in heaven.
2.2/ The relationship between Christ and his faithful: There are a deep meaning in the relationship between Christ the king and the faithful which the author of the Letter to the Colossians wants us to meditate; not to stop at the facial relationship between the king and his people.
(1) Christ is God’s Word, through him the whole world is created: This is the concept which the Wisdom Books (Proverbs, Wisdom), Baruch and the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel developed. Christ is God; he is the king not only of people but also of the universe. All powers, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, are depended on his power. The author of the Letter to the Colossians described this concept as follows, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.” People must accept Christ as their king for they were created by him; they are his “bone and flesh.”
(2) Christ keeps all things in their beings: He is not only the cause of existing but also the cause of continuing to exist, as the author says, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The faithful can continue to exist by grace of the sacraments established by Christ, “He is the head of the body, the church.” People should be destroyed because of their sins; but Christ volunteered to die in their place to redeem their sins; therefore, people aren’t destroyed.
(3) Christ helps human beings and all creatures to reach their end: He gloriously resurrected. He is the first-born from the dead. People, after being reconciled with God, are also brought into Christ’s kingdom so that he could reign over them forever.
(4) Christ reigns not only the body but also the human soul: In order for a kingdom to have true peace, we need not only a talent and virtuous king but also obedient and lovely people. There is no human king who can rule people’s soul; only Christ has power to do that. He must govern both their soul and body in order for his kingdom to be in true peace and love.
In a word, only Christ, who is both the king and the Lord of all people, can have all the qualities of the ideal king to govern people forever.
3/ Gospel: “This is the king of the Jews.”
3.1/ Christ chose the way of suffering to be the king and to liberate people: There are two things in today passage, though the Jews didn’t want them, but God in His providence let them happen.
(1) Christ is the king of the Jews: This title over Jesus’ head is written in three languages: Latin, Hebrew and Greek. How can a person who endured such kind of death be the king of the Jews? That is why, in the Fourth Gospel, the Jewish chief priests came to Pilate and said, “Do not write, `The King of the Jews,’ but, `This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” But Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written” (Jn 19:21-22).
(2) Christ liberates people from the power of death: To save people from sin and death, Christ must save himself. That is why the soldiers, people and the leaders jeered and challenged Jesus to save himself so they could believe in him. They didn’t expect God shall liberate him from death by letting him resurrect!
3.2/ Christ’s kingdom is reserved only for those who believe in him: This is the only condition to be the citizen of Christ’s kingdom. Only in the Third Gospel, we have a report that people chose the reward or the punishment for themselves underneath of the cross.
(1) The people stood by, watching; but the rulers scoffed at him: They challenged Jesus, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, His Chosen One!”The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar,and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” By saying these words, these people chose the punishment for themselves.
(2) Jesus’ promise for the good thief: But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” By putting his faith in Jesus, the good thief chose the reward for himself, confirmed by Jesus.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Only Christ is deserved to be our king because he created, redeemed, shall lead us to his kingdom and reign over our soul. In his kingdom, there shall be no more suffering, death and injustice. He shall reign over us eternally and in love and justice.
– The only condition to be Christ’s citizen is to believe in him. Asking for his kingdom to come is one article in the Our Father which we daily pray. This article can only be achieved when we help all people to believe in him.