Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Feast of Christ The King

Christ as a true king has a standard, a flag, one which cannot be mistaken and which arrises from the very constitutions and nature of the kingdom from its fundamental teachings. St. Ignatius in his spiritual exercises puts before us the meditation on the two standards to show us clearly how God acts in his kingdom and how the devil acts in his. Christ tells us that when the devil is cast out of any place it is a sign that the kingdom of God has reached that place. We need to know today what is the standards of Christ because the enemy is at work among us in our spiritual lives and it is necessary to discover his tricks so as to cast him far from us so that that the true kingdom may grow in our hearts.

We find three characteristics of these standards of Christ the King.

The first is poverty against satan's standard of riches. The devil acts, in a way, opposite to that of Christ. He says: "If thou art the Son of God, command that theses stones be made bread." In other words, he tempted Our Lord not to trust that God would provide for him in time, when it was time, but as he was pointing to a field full of stones he was tempting him to provide more than he needed, which would be a temptation to greed. But Christ tells us that the difficulties that riches put in the way of our entry into the kingdom, as if they choked the seed of the will of God which is the root of his kingdom within us. He demands a renounciation of self on the part of all who would be his disciples and we see this in the lives of many saintly people, especially the kings and queens who have been canonized while they had a great deal of material things, a great deal of wealth, they disposed of these things for God's greater honor and glory building monestaries, convents, churches, providing for the poor, and living themselves very simply. Jesus announces solemly that the rich possessions of the kingdom of heaven are for the poor, then he said in the sermon on the mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." With the example of his life, Jesus has shown us that the way to the way to the Kingdom of heaven is through poverty, at least poverty in spirit. He could have told us about it and then lived differently but he chose to give us the example first so that we may find it easier to follow him along that difficult way.

Secondly, the standard of Christ represents suffering persecution and insults contrary to the worldly honors that the devil would have us seek. The devil offers his followers all the kingdoms of the earth if they will serve him as he said to Our Lord when he was tempting him in the desert: "All this will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Christ on the other hand says: "Blessed are those who suffer persecution for justice's sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ." On the way to Emmaus after the resurrection, Jesus declares that this way of persecution, suffering is the only way to enter his Kingdom; he rebuked the two disciples, with whom he was conversing and said: "Art not Christ to have suffered these things as though to enter into his glory?" We have, again, the example of his own life, when there was a chance that he might be proclaimed king after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes he fled into the mountains all by himself.

And thirdly, Christ the holds up the standard of humility against pride. The devil brings into our hearts the desire to be like God, this trick had good results in the case of our first parents. And he, as a devil, never ceases to try it on the human race even in the case of Christ, himself, he tried it. Again, when he was tempting him, he tried to induce him to act against God's providence and normal rules of conduct where one does not make rash moves which could endanger oneself trusting in God, Satan wanted him to throw himself down from the pinicle of the temple and Christ, of course, refused. Jesus declared that the kingdom of heaven is for those who become like little children, the one who humbles himself shall be exalted and he told us that he himself came to minister not to be ministered to or served. St. Paul tells us in his epistle to the Philipians that the glory of our king came only after a long series of humiliations. In fact, he says that because of his obedience Christ died, he was obedient even on to death and it was because of that he recieved immense glory so that his name is held in great respect.

In today's Gospel, Christ appears humbled, dishonored, and poor and he proclaims his kingship. He reigns from the cross, this is his throne. But there the good theif recognized his kingship and the centerian recognized that he was truly the Son of God. By dying on the cross, Our Lord showed us that his kingdom was not of this world, he had another standard or measure of true glory and that was of obedience to his father and suffering to bring about our salvation.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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