1.2Sam 5:1-3
2. Col 1:12-20
Gospel: Luke 23:35-43

                                  " Are we a lost cause?"
        HOMILY 1

Mrs. Smith who was a retired primary school teacher decided to volunteer at local hospital and tutor some of the children who were going to be there for an extended period of time.

At the hospital there was a boy who was undergoing some treatments, whose name was Jimmy. Mrs. Smith called Jimmy's teacher at school and got the assignments which his class was studying-nouns and verbs. The teacher brought all the material with her to the hospital.

When she arrived, she found out that Jimmy was in the burnt unit. For those of you who don't know how much about burn units, the sights and smells can be overwhelming. Because of that situation the teacher almost turned around and went home, however Mrs. Smith had a courage of getting where Jimmy was. Jimmy was not responding well to the treatment. Mrs. Smith introduced herself to Jimmy, "my name is Mrs. Smith, and I am going to be your teacher for a while, until you can return to school. Today we are going to learn about nouns and verbs. It's very important that a person knows how to speak and write properly." After the lesson was over, she told Jimmy that she'd be back in a few days.

Two days later, Mrs. Smith received a phone call from Jimmy's mother asking if she would be coming to the hospital that day. Having received that phone call, on her mind Mrs. Smith thought that she had done a poor job with Jimmy and that the mother was calling to tell her not to come back again. " Oh, no," said Jimmy's mother, " On the contrary. You have it all wrong. I don't know what you said to my son, but since your visit, Jimmy has been really trying hard to respond to his treatment. It seems that he has finally decided to live.

When Mrs. Smith returned to the hospital, she found Jimmy with his therapist and his mother. Jimmy said to his mother, " Now I know that I'm going to live. They wouldn't send a teacher to teach me nouns and verbs if I was going to die, if I was a lost cause, would they"?

Likewise, God the Father, wouldn't  send his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ the King to be exact, if we are a lost cause. He wouldn't  let his son die a miserable death on the cross for us if he didn't know that some of us would call out to him, as did the good thief-" Jesus remember me, when you come into your kingdom."

We are sometimes challenged by the fact that sometimes we tend to see negatives alone on our part, thus we tend to give up. But, Jesus hasn't given up on us. He refuses to ever give up on us. He is Christ the King, who loves his subjects-us. He loves us to death. The goal and dream of Jesus is to have us live with him forever. Our goal and dream should be the same too. Every other goal and dream is transitory and of every little importance, no matter how important that they may seem at the moment. They will pass away.

If we are followers of Christ, we don't have to worry about being remembered, do we? Jesus, our Lord and King, will remember us and love us for eternity. That is the great hope of today's gospel for us. This unnamed man, known to us as the ' good thief ' is dying for crimes which he committed, whatever they were. However he was very close to Jesus on the darkest of days-Good Friday. He didn't know much about Jesus, when he asked to be remembered. Hence his future hung in the Balance. This good thief exactly knew that his future destiny hung on his faith that Jesus was exactly who he said was- the Son of God. And in that faith, he asked simply to be remembered. It is mercy in its purest form that he seeks.

We are that thief, aren't we? All of us are sinners, may be neither better no worse than that thief on the cross. There is hope for people like us. Just prayer away is the mercy of Christ-just one prayer away.

Therefore this last Sunday of the Church year challenges us to decide- who is our King? What are the goals and dreams that we should really be working and sacrificing for? Obviously, Jesus should be our Lord and King. After all we share his hopes, and dreams for an eternity together. We believe that nothing, not even death can, steal the dream of his kingdom from us. This day, Christ the King, isn't just the conclusion of the church year. He is the sign of our hope. Don't ever lose sight of that fact-ever.

            HOMILY 2

When we celebrate the feast of Christ the King simultaneously we mark also the end of liturgical calendar of the Church. In the gospel of St. John, when Pontius Pilate asked Jesus if he was indeed a king, He replied, " Yes"( 6:14-15; 18:33-37). However, he was not the king Pilate thought. He is not a military or political king whose followers would fight for Him or whose domain is limited to one nation.

We can understand the meaning of the word " kingdom" from an Aramaic word called " malkuth"  which is literally translated into English as the " reign" Aramaic is the language of Jesus Christ. Malkuth has a very important connotation. It implies not just a place or domain but God's active rule or dominion that permeates a person's heart from which his motives, values and attitudes originate. Hence Christ's teaching: " The Kingdom of God is within you."

According to historical facts, this feast was instituted because of the great modern heresy of laicims and secularism which was denounced by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical letter of December 11,1925, QUAS PRIMAS ( on the feast of Christ the King). This heresy refuses to recognize the rights of God, begets jealously between individuals, classes and nations, thus causing disunity because pride and egoism reign instead of love of God and of neighbor. The Holy Father, therefore, instituted this feast in order to make known to all humankind that Christ is King not only over individuals but also over families and nations.

Jesus Christ is real King because of who He is. He is not just the " king of the Jews" ( Lk 23:38) but He is the King of Kings because He has in Him all the qualities that are best in creation. Gold, before, is called the King of metals because it was thought to be the most precious of all metals. Lion is called the King of the forest, for he is thought to be the noblest of animals. Similarly, Jesus is the king of the human race, since He is the best and noblest human being who ever lived, " the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, in whom everything in heaven and on earth were created through Him and for Him," ( Col1:15-16)

We understand Jesus to be real but a different King because of what He did. He redeemed and forgave us of our sins ( Col 1:14). Jesus being a King is not out to dominate but to love; not out to rule but to serve; not out to order but to seek out the lost ones such as the repentant thief on the cross in today's gospel ( v.43).

Jesus is the King of Hearts because His Kingship is based on love, rather than on coercion and threats. Jesus does not impose His rule on anyone but is respectful of the freedom of all. He wants only to reign on those who love Him. This special feast reminds us too that over and above being the universal King, Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church. His divine reign stretches out from the alpha ( beginning) of time to the omega( end) of time. There is no other true King, for God is  One.

In the interim Period, that is, between Christ's ascension into heaven and His return in glory at the end time, Christ will be a King of our lives if He finds in us and in our actions some resemblance to what he is and what He does. Being Christ's followers we are not to wait passively like sitting in an air conditioned room waiting before its door is opened. In our today's world we are challenged on how to continue this mission of Christ's Kingship here on earth as it is in heaven and to make of it a better world to live.

Dear brothers and sisters we are also challenged to produce within ourselves another Christ but how? this is through imitating the very life of Christ that he has set for us to follow: to love, and serve unconditionally. It is not a question of doing spectacular things which is important, but the helping in the simple things that sometimes seem to be ordinary. According to Saint Theresa of Calcutta: " We cannot do great things only little things done in great love. This can be done through giving food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, welcoming a stranger, visiting the sick and the prisoners and other corporal works of mercy and things that anyone can do.  In a special way Christ's kingship is manifested in the poor  and the needy. It is through them that we can imitate the King " who came to serve and not to be saved, (Matt 20:28).

Let us bear in our minds that if to love and to serve unconditionally is the way to imitate Christ, then love is also the means to spread the Kingship of Christ. It is by living lives of love that we spread best the Kingship of Christ. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi may become our prayer too to remind us this responsibility that, " Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; when there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek: to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

This feast is an invitation to all those who are in power or authority of any kind to compare their use of power or authority with Jesus. Are they using their power to serve others or to manipulate? Are they using their power for the building up of a more Just society or to feather their own nest? Are they using their power in any way that might cause pain on others or in a way that could help to alleviate pain?

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Chapisha Maoni