Sunday Sermon for November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Year C

Readings: 2Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43
There are two things in the readings today which we need to consider in the context of today’s feast of Christ the King. The first point comes in the first reading where the people of Israel come to King David to ask him to reign as the King of Israel. At that time the Jewish people were divided into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. David had been the King of Judah for about seven years, reigning is Hebron; now he was to be king of a united people with his kingship established in Jerusalem.

What is important for us with regard to Jesus is that He is King of the whole Universe. This means that He brings together various peoples into a unity of love and truth. All people are made in the image and likeness of God and, therefore, every single person is made for the truth and for love. Our Lord certainly spoke the truth when He was in this world, but more importantly, He is the Truth.

Anyone who professes the fullness of the truth as taught by the Church is united in Jesus. It is not enough merely to claim a certain belief in Jesus while picking and choosing what one accepts from among His teachings. To truly believe in Jesus is to accept everything that He is and that He taught. Peoples of every nation, race, and tongue have given their whole mind and heart to the Person of Jesus. They have chosen to conform themselves to Him and to serve Him. They embrace the truth with their mind and put it into practice through love from the heart.

The second point to consider is really one that precedes the first and that is the question of why people would choose Jesus and conform themselves to Him. It is not merely the fact that Jesus loved them first, because we all have people who love us and whom we love in return. These are good people from whom we can learn and we can even become like them in their virtues, but we do not look to them as truth and love per se.

The reason we are able to give ourselves entirely to Jesus can be found in the second reading where we are told that through Christ we have redemption. It is the fact that He is our Redeemer that allows us to give ourselves to Him. No one else, regardless of how much they love us or how committed they are to the truth can be our redeemer. Jesus alone is the Redeemer because He is both God and man. Going to the cross for us He shed human blood to redeem human sin and, at the same time, He made up for the infinite offense of our sins because He is an infinite Person.

Our sins had made us servants of darkness, but St. Paul says that through Jesus God has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and has transferred us to the Kingdom of His Son. This Kingship is recognized, even if mockingly, by Pilate as he proclaims it boldly by placing it directly above our Lord’s head on the cross.

What Pilate did not understand is what it really means to be a king. He thought about power, lording that power over others, and focusing on the self. Jesus placed His focus on serving God and neighbor and did so with love and humility. In the first reading the people remind David that God told him that he would shepherd Israel and be commander of Israel. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for the sheep. He is also our Head, our Leader, our Commander or, in a word, our King. It is fascinating that in the view of the world the shepherd is the lowest and the king is the highest. In Jesus, they are one and the same.

As God Jesus is by nature infinitely higher than anyone else. However, the reason He is our King is because He made Himself the lowest and redeemed us by His Blood. His Kingship is exercised by service: not demanding to be served, but making Himself the servant of all. This is love in its fullness. The only proper response to love is love. Therefore, if we choose Jesus, we need to choose to serve. This is the freedom we have as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven; it is also the purpose and fulfillment of our creation on earth.

It was not beneath His dignity to serve because it was really the same as loving in truth. It is our dignity to do the same. This is what it means for us to be transferred to the Kingdom of the Son of God.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit